USA Women's Badminton Team to Compete in the 2009 Fajr International Badminton Tournament, Feb. 5-8 in Tehran, Iran

Feb. 02, 2009, 6:43 p.m. (ET)

USA Women's Badminton Team to Compete in the 2009 Fajr International Badminton Tournament, Feb. 5-8 in Tehran, Iran

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Eight female athletes representing USA Badminton (USAB), including 2008 U.S. Olympians Eva Lee (Orange, Calif.) and Mesinee "May" Mangkalakiri (Garden Grove, Calif.) will travel to Tehran, Iran to compete in the Fajr International Badminton Tournament, February 5-8, 2009, at the invitation of the Iranian Badminton Federation.

In conjunction with the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) a delegation of 12 Americans, made up of players, coaches and officials, will travel to Tehran for the tournament from February 3- 9, 2009.  The Fajr Tournament is a respected international badminton event and an opportunity to compete against a talented Iranian team and other international talent.  Last year teams representing 23 countries competed in the Iranian tournament which celebrated its 19th year.  The event is sanctioned by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) and results will count toward each player's international ranking.

USA Badminton Athletes competing in the event include:

Eva Lee (Orange, Calif.) - 2008 U.S. Olympian Mesinee "May" Mangkalakiri (Garden Grove, Calif.) - 2008 U.S. Olympian Kimberly Kramer (Bethesda, Md.) Tina-Rose Cavazos (San Antonio, Texas) Rachel Liao (Potomac, Md.) Tiffanie Kimura (Glenview, Ill.) Rena Wang (Arcadia, Calif.) Becky Neumann (Manhattan Beach, Calif.)

Also in the travelling delegation are:

Ms. Wendy Carter (Gig Harbor, Wash.) - Head Coach Ms. Rita Cardenas-Gamez (San Antonio, Texas) - Team Manager Mr. Paisan Rangsikitpho (Long Beach, Calif.) - USAB Official and BWF Council Member Mr. Dan Cloppas, USA Badminton Chief Executive Officer/Secretary General

ECA and USA Badminton look forward to hosting the Iranian Badminton Federation later this year when they will come to the USA for the 2009 Yonex/OCBC U.S. Open Grand Prix Championships, July 7-12 in Orange, Calif.

In addition to being a tremendous international competitive opportunity for USA Badminton athletes, this Iran exchange is in response to the U.S. government's call for expanded people-to-people exchanges with Iran.  The State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) is including Iranians in a broad range of traditional educational, professional, and cultural exchange programs for the first time since 1979.  Over the past two years over 250 Iranians, including artists, athletes, and medical professionals have participated in exchange programs in the United States.  Through its Sports United program, ECA has brought the Iranian National Teams for Basketball, Water Polo, Weightlifting and members of the men's and women's National Table Tennis team to the United States.  The State Department also sent 20 members of USA Wrestling to Iran to compete in the prestigious Takhti Cup in January 2007.

For more information on ECA's exchange programs and Sports United, see  Contact: Kate Starr,

For more information on USA Badminton, see:  Contact:  Cecil Bleiker,  Stateside interview requests for USA Badminton athletes and officials will be granted when the team returns from Iran on February 9.

For more information, please contact Cecil Bleiker, NGB Media Services Director for USA Badminton at 719-866-4608.  This press release is also available on the USOC's media specific website at  Head and shoulder photos along with biographies of Olympians and USA Badminton officials are also available for download at