Taufik Hidayat, one of the greats of modern badminton, has announced his retirement at the end of this year’s Indonesia Open in June. It’s a competition he’s won six times but what is fitting about this announcement is that his career will end where it began, in his home country.
Taufik was only 15 when he was selected for the Indonesian national team. He promptly went on to win his first title at the Brunei Open and in 1999 he made it to the final of All England Open at just 17. His subsequent career has seen him become the World No. 1 and – perhaps more importantly – to become one of the sport’s greatest ambassadors.
His crowning achievements were the astonishing 2004 Athens Olympics where the unseeded Taufik went on to win gold, defeating players ranked far higher than him. Then, in the following year, even that feat was equaled when he won the World Championships in Anaheim, in so doing becoming the first men’s singles player to have won both Olympic and World Championship titles.
In badminton-crazy Indonesia, where players are celebrated for their great flair and skill, Taufik stands out for his vibrancy and speed, leaving his opponents baffled. His trademark shot is his leaping backhand smash, the aggression of which belies his nickname ‘baby face’.
Taufik’s deserved legacy will be the TAUFIK HIDAYAT ARENA which opened its doors in December 2012 and is already welcoming the next generation of young players.
Taufik Hidayat is admired around the world by fans and fellow players alike. Throughout his career YONEX has been by his side. As Taufik himself says, YONEX has been an, “everlasting, much admired symbol.”
Here he talks about his history with YONEX:
My first encounter with YONEX was in 1993 when my father gave me a wonderful present – it was the Carbonex 9 racquet, which was really popular at the time. I remember the feeling when I first used it – the shuttlecock flew off the strings exactly how I’d always imagined playing with such a great racquet should feel.
When I became a national junior player I used the Carbonex 20. It really suited my style of play and like a partner we grew together. Since then, I have stayed with YONEX and used no other brand.
My partnership with YONEX is as strong today as it has always been - YONEX is a great company.
I love it when they give me a new racquet to try out – it’s exciting to see how YONEX have developed the game further, what areas they have explored in the design of the new model. YONEX are always pushing the boundaries. Ultimately they are all about inspiring great badminton.
If YONEX ask me to try out a new racquet I like to use it in a game situation because that way you can really test the racquet under match conditions – I think that it’s the best way to test it. It might feel good in practice, but it is good to feel how it copes with the pressure of a match situation.
My style is not based on power, but I do not need a powerful racquet. When I change to a new model, I rely on how the racquet feels to me when I use it in practice and in matches. The feeling I’m looking for is that sense of the racquet being a part of me, of being an extension of my arm. It’s instinctive. My body tells me if it’s the right fit or not, and, crucially, whether it will improve my performance
I will never compromise my choice of racquet, it must have the right balance of balance weight and control – after all, it is my weapon of choice on the court
YONEX understands this, so each racquet they give me has been carefully selected with my playing style in mind. YONEX has been an everlasting, much admired symbol since my childhood. Now I am able to help advise them on the development of YONEX sport equipment, which is like a kid testing sweets in a sweep shop!
Taufik’s success and tournament titles are wholly down to his constant hard work talent and passion for the game. But in a way those he has competed against at the highest level for 15 years have become a community of players; sometimes rivals, often friends, all colleagues in the sport of badminton. Supported by one another they keep their passion for the game of badminton alive.
Here these friends and fellow competitors send their messages to Taufik:
I feel particularly honoured to have played against Taufik Hidayat. His passion challenges the badminton world. I’m looking forward to his passion continuing to support the sport.
Taufik is one of those rare players you can’t get enough of. He’s achieved so much, despite all the pressure and expectations hanging over him from a young age. Good luck with the Taufik Hidayat Arena and thank you to Taufik, for so many years of your skilful and powerful badminton.
Taufik has been my inspiration. I admired his gold in the Athens Olympics, so much that I have come to regard him as the perfect player: his trademark backhand smash, his super-fast net play and his ability to turn defence into attack in the blink of an eye. I was fortunate enough to be his doubles partner at an exhibition match in December 2009, at the Syed Modi Memorial India Open Grand Prix tournament in Lucknow. He always encouraged me, which has helped my game improve and helped me to win tournaments; he is so composed and generous. I remember how great it was to see Taufik in Mumbai - he was at the inauguration of the badminton courts at the Mumbai Cricket Club along with my coaches Prakash Padukone, Pullela Gopichand.
Taufik might be leaving pro badminton but badminton won’t be able to leave him, I believe that he will continue to inspire others.
I wish him and his family all the best for the future.
Taufik Hidayat, has announced that he will retire at his home international at the end of the Indonesia Open in June 2013. From the day when he first leaped onto the international badminton stage, Taufik has shown himself to be a giant of the game.
Here we take a look his defining 2004 Olympic and 2005 World Championship victories, when Indonesia’s badminton king held court and the world watched in awe.
The 2004 Summer Olympic Games - the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, were to be held in Athens, Greece. The last time Greece had hosted the Games was 108 years ago. Players from 32 countries would fight it out over eight days of fast and fierce badminton. The experts all expected the Chinese players, Lin Dan, Chen Hong and Bao Chunlai to be vying for the three medals. As Taufik was not in his best form before the Olympics he was not considered to be a medal prospect.
Taufik acquired child prodigy status – always a mixed blessing – having been runner-up at the All England in 1999 at the age of 17. But as seems inevitable when so much pressure is put on a player at such a young age his subsequent performances were disappointing and his ranking had dropped sharply. Some commentators even announced that his time was over because he’d reached the top too soon. Others were equally dismissive saying that he could only win titles in Asia. They were in for a surprise…
Taufik knew that if he could win at The Olympics his previous form would be forgotten. The Olympic competition is so dynamic - anything can happen and the consequences can mean the world. Yet even by Olympic standards, Athens 2004 was exceptional. The favorite Lin Dan was knocked out in the first round which made the tournament wide open. Taufik was unseeded and, in complete contrast to Lin Dan, no one expected anything of him to win.When he started beating the seeded players the pressure mounted, especially when Taufik faced Denmark’s Peter Gade.
At the Sydney Olympics Peter Gade was one of the favourites and it had been a bitter blow for him to miss out on a medal. So now in Athens four years later, the Danish champion was determined to win. Like Taufik, Peter is a great ambassador for the game, a feared opponent on court and a gentleman off. In a brilliant display of speed and skill both players fought to dominate the net. In the end, Taufik’s incessant attacking proved too much and the Dane went down 15-12, 15-12. Taufik advanced into the semi-finals a battle hardened player. Indeed, the mighty contest against Peter seemed to be a turning point. His confidence soared and there seemed to be no other player who could stop the reawakened king of the court.
He swept aside Ponsana in the semi-final – the first time a Thai player had reached the semis in the men’s game – to face Korea’s Shon Seung-mo in the ultimate show down. Despite the commentators’ predictions none of the much-heralded Chinese players made the final. It was a titanic match worthy of the drama of the Olympics.
Taufik won in straight games, helped by the crowd singing the Indonesian national anthem. “It’s like a dream. I was Indonesia’s only hope,” Taufik said after the final, with a tear in his eye. Throughout the contest Taufik had showed overwhelming skill and mental toughness to come from being written off to being the king badminton court.
The king had conquered the world.
Taufik’s progression did not stop at Athens. The next year he was to prove his stature once again. Although he’d been the youngest runner up at the prestigious All England Open in 1999 (he’d been beaten by Peter Gade in the final), he’d never made much of an impression at the World Championships, despite a promising bronze medal in 2001. But now things were different. Aiming for the title, he arrived in Anaheim.
World No. 1Lin Dan of China regarded Taufik’s as his great rival. Lin arrived at the World Championships full of confidence and fighting talk saying, “The player who I will enjoy beating the most is Taufik Hidayat”.
Now was the time for these two greats of the game to battle it out. Despite great players such as Peter Gade and Lee Chong Wei having other ideas, nevertheless, in front of a huge cheering crowd of Indonesian and Chinese supporters, Taufik and Lin made it through to face each other in the final. Taufik had a great start and to everyone’s amazement was soon leading by 13-0. However Lin Dan never gave up and fought back hard. Taufik kept on the pressure, luring Lin towards the net with short serves, and giving nothing away in the long heated rallies that followed. Lin fought with everything he had but the lead was too great and Taufik took the first game. Lin tried to turn the tables in the second coming back at his opponent hard and fast but Taufik held his nerve. Playing with consummate skill he pushed Lin around the court with pinpoint smashing he won eleven consecutive points to reach the match point. The World no. 1 tried to hang on but Taufik was at the top of his game. His overwhelming power and ‘sharp smash’ sealed his victory.
‘When a dream comes true’
With this title, Taufik became the first men’s singles player to win both the Olympic and World Championships. Not only had he stepped into the history books, he had proved himself the king of the court and taking the game to new higher standards.