Gronya Somerville, poster girl for badminton

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 Gronya Somerville of Australia in a match against Switzerland at the 14th Sudirman Cup in Dongguan city, Guangdong province, May 13, 2015.

Gronya Somerville is a poster girl for badminton as the Australian has already got a huge following partially because of her good looks and connection with a Chinese historical figure.

At the 14th Sudirman Cup, Somerville is hugely popular with media and fans as the host city, Dongguan in Guangdong province, was the hometown of her grand-grand-father Kang Youwei (1858-1927), who co-launched a movement for a political reform, known as the short-lived Reform Movement of 1898, during the Qing Dynasty.

Gronya is the "fifth-generation" descendant of Kang. Her father is Chinese and mother is British.

"Since I was young, my mum tell us that he (Kang) was like a revolutionist and really helped change China with his unique thinking," said the 20-year-old Australian, who has been trained in a system of "Sport in Schools".

"I began when I was 12 years old through a talent program in Australia and before that I had never played badminton," she said.

"They asked primary school girls to come try for badminton. They just did fitness testing, and picked some of us and started to train."

"And when I just first played it, I just really enjoyed it. And my family all support me," she recalled.

Since Somerville caught attention at the 2012 Thomas and Uber Cup, she has got more popular and even landed a role in a Chinese TV drama.

"It was Hongloumeng," she said, referring to "A Dream of Red Mansions", one of Chinese four classics.

An Australian official believed Gronya would have a good and long badminton career.


"She is very good and in doubles. We started her from a very young girl and developed her through to get into the Australian team. And we expect she will be in that Sudirman cup team (in 2017) and also in Commonwealth Games the year after, and also Olympics. She got that potential," said Geraldine Brown, Chairman of Australia Badminton Association.

Geraldine also noticed the popularity of the player in China.

"I was told he (Kang) was her grand-grand father. I only found that when she came in the team in Uber Cup two years ago. Somebody found her out and she became very popular in China and she was always popular in Australia but we didn't know that since 2012."

Although the Australian badminton now is on the third level at the world stage, Gronya has a big target for her beloved sport.

"Hopefully, I can get into the 2016 Olympics in Rio. And after that, my main goal is to reach the top 10," she said.

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