The world of sports has come across many legendary names. In badminton men’s, we’ve heard about China’s Lin Dan or “Super Dan,” Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei, Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat and Rudy Hartono Kurniawan, Denmark’s Morten Frost, and many more.
These are truly athletes who make it to the top, making the world of sports even more abundant. Every badminton player or enthusiast’s dream is to live during the reign of the best. And this generation has Chou Tien Chen, the world’s current fifth-ranked Badminton men’s singles player from Taiwan.
Getting To Know the Icon
Chou Tien Chen is a Taiwanese badminton player representing Chinese Taipei. He was born on January 8, 1990, and became the first local shuttler to win the men’s singles title in 17 years in 2016. He followed Indonesian-born Fung Permadi, who won the title of the Chinese Taipei Open in 1999. Chou Tien Chen is a right-handed player, sweeping the Badminton World Federation with his powerful and superior movement.
Chou Tien Chen started playing badminton at the age of five and competing at the age of 11. He has been a member of the national team since he was 17, and his list of achievements has been endless since. He started with a bronze medal for the 2008 Kuala Lumpur Asian Junior Championships mixed doubles and went on to become a finalist in bigger badminton tournaments.
In 2011, Chou Tien Chen was a YONEX Dutch Open finalist. He was also one at YONEX Canada Open in 2012 and YONEX French Open in 2015. In the same years, he played as a two-time YONEX Chinese Taipei Open finalist (2012 and 2015) and appeared in many more competitions.
Apart from being a finalist in many tournaments, Chou Tien Chen also brought home some gold. During his early career, he was a three-time Bitburger Badminton Open Champion (2012, 2013, and 2014) and the YONEX French Open Champion in 2014. Since then, he has become the most-awaited badminton men’s single player on the court.
Some games he lost, some he won, but his consistency in playing badminton is unmistakable. His losses in some of the biggest badminton tournaments never daunted him as he kept on playing in different stages. Now, he’s Taiwan’s Premier Badminton Player!
It was in 2014 when Chou Tien Chen established himself as Taiwan’s Premier Badminton Player. He won the country’s first men’s singles title in the BWF World Superseries. He also beat Wang Zhengming in the Yonex French Open 2014 final in Paris and stunned Indonesia’s then-world number four seed, Tommy Sugiarto. At the time, Chou Tien Chen was steadily climbing his way up the Badminton World Federation rankings.
Chou Tien Chen’s most memorable match was the semi-final in the Chinese Taipei Open 2015 where he played against “Super Dan” Lin Dan. Little did he know that he would end the 17-year wait for a local champion the following year. In 2016, Chou Tien Chen claimed the Yonex Chinese Taipei Open title, the first after 17 years since Fung Permadi’s 1999 win. He beat Qiao Bin in his 21-18, 21-17 victory.
In the same year, he also joined the Rio Olympics. He became a three-time YONEX Chinese Taipei Open Champion (2016, 2017, and 2019) and a two-time YONEX German Open Champion and YONEX-SUNRISE India Open Finalist (2017 and 2018). Some of his other big wins include the following:
- Singapore Open Champion
- Asia Games Finalist
- Victor Korea Open Champion
- Danisa Denmark Open Finalist
- Fuzhou China Open Finalist
- Blibli Indonesia Open Champion
- Toyota Thailand Open Champion
- Korea Open Finalist
- Fuzhou China Open Finalist
Struggles as an Athlete
Yes, Chou Tien Chen has a long list of wins and losses. Looking at his big wins, it may seem like he breezed through his badminton career. But if we zoom into his big moments, we can find that he, too, goes through many challenges.
Constantly playing against the world’s best badminton players, Chou Tien Chen had to face numerous losses. And like other athletes who are always in the public eye, he went through his fair share of criticism and pressure. In 2020, a YouTube video featuring a clip from his semi-final match against Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia at the 2018 Chinese Taipei Open went viral.
Chou Tien Chen lost against Lee Zii Jia with a score of 21-17 14-21 22-24. He was visibly upset because it was a hard-fought match. He sat down on the court, where Lee Zii Jia eventually approached him. The two hugged, but Chou Tien Chen seemed to give his opponent a middle finger.
Two years later, the Premier Badminton Player was on fire and went on to clear his name through an Instagram video.
He said,“Hello, I’m Tien Chen Chou. After the game ended, my opponent came to my court to hug me. I then opened my arms, but some of my fingers were blocked, which caused the misleading picture. I didn’t notice that until I saw some people’s sharing of the photos on the internet.”
He added that as an athlete, morale always comes first and that he didn’t intend to show disrespect. Lee Zii Jia also corroborated Chou Tien Chen’s story and said it was merely a misunderstanding.
He said, “After the game, I took the initiative to run and hug Chou. We were all tired at the time… I believe in Chou Tien Chen’s attitude and character… Sometimes the angle of a hug is wrongly shown in videos and pictures. I say this because I felt his sincerity when we hugged. He and I are very good friends in real life.”
Recently, Chou Tien Chen faced another challenge when he was robbed of his second title of the year at the Hylo Open 2022. He played against Anthony Ginting, and they reached a tie at 22-22 when the referee gave his opponent a point, thinking he had made a mistake. He requested a video replay, but the umpire stuck to his decision. Chou Tien Chen ended up feeling rattled and lost the match.
The BWF investigated the incident but still didn’t change the result. Unfortunately, replays aren’t accepted as a BWF referral system.
Chou Tien Chen said, “I know I cannot change the situation but I hope there is a rule change to avoid situations like this in future. There should be a better system to review situations such as racket crossing the net while hitting the shuttle and incidents like this.”
There were definitely struggles and successes in Chou Tien Chen’s career. He’s still in the middle of it, trying to make his mark on badminton. But regardless, he remains an excellent example for aspiring badminton players to look up to. His willingness to step up, face his fears, and stay optimistic despite the tough times is something all athletes can learn from.
Struggles in sports aren’t limited to losses. Sometimes, they have nothing to do with the game, and the player has to stay focused and fight through. Besides being incredible on the court, Chou Tien Chen is also an inspiration off it. Badminton can be a brutal sport, but he’s making it look easy and worthy.
Rivals Against the Titles
Through the years of trying to climb the badminton rankings, Chou Tien Chen has played against many rivals. Besides Lin Dan or “Super Dan,” who gave him his most memorable match in 2015, Chou Tien Chen also considers Lee Chong Wei his toughest opponent. Yes, he has played with the world’s top-ranked men’s badminton players of all time, and that only means he has also emerged as one of the best.
Chou Tien Chen was the fifth seed when he won the Yonex Chinese Taipei Open 2016. Lee Chong Wei, Chen Long, and Lin Dan were all absent, allowing him to claim the title before the Rio Olympics. Since then, he has continued to play against fellow badminton stars, losing and winning games that he equally cherishes.
In a 2022 article, Nicolas Anil called Chou Tien Chen a “seasoned campaigner who has played the best both past and present.” Chou Tien Chen shared that the legends such as Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan posed a different threat compared to the younger and current generation.
He said, “It’s a different generation, different playing style altogether. To be amongst the best now, you need to have more speed, more strength. The physical demands are high. Playing against Chong Wei and Lin Dan required mental strength, but also speed. There is quite the difference between that generation and now.”
Chou Tien Chen played with Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan a total of 17 times, and most of the time, he lost. But each of those matches was meaningful, and they allowed him to understand his opponents more than just badminton players.
Chou Tien Chen also prepared for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games without a personal trainer, causing fans and peers to feel concerned.
However, the athlete reassured everyone, saying, “Everybody has something I can learn from. This method works best for me. God is my coach.”
One of Chou Tien Chen’s ambitions is to become a medalist in the Olympic Games. Other badminton players may just be like him, aiming to be the world’s best player. But as an athlete, he doesn’t see them as rivals, no matter how difficult it is to beat them. He sees everyone as his teacher, learning new techniques to perfect his badminton game.
The Icon For the Seeds
Besides treating other athletes as teachers, Chou Tien Chen also contributes to the growth of others. In 2019, GYROTONIC shared their interview with his Gyrotonic Trainer, Chin-Shan Hsieh. Chou Tien Chen shared that the Gyrotonic work has a lot of spiral motion that helps him find a fascia connection. He feels his proprioception is fully turned on when he practices the Gyrotonic Method. His pre-game warm-up is more effective, and his defense on the court is better.
He added, “Because badminton is a sport that trains the body unilaterally, my body tends to get uneven. Gyrotonic exercises help me to correct the imbalance and gain more stabilization.”
Chou Tien Chen reached out to other athletes with a message, saying that the method can guide them to explore more possibilities in their bodies. It broadens his horizons on the court and helps him understand his own body better, hoping other athletes like him could also benefit from it.
In 2022, K.M. Boopathy called him the “philosophical shuttler” in an article about Soong Joo Ven’s chance to train with Chou Tien Chen. Soong Joo Ven is an independent player who expressed gratitude for the support and mentorship, saying that Chou Tien Chen has so much experience to share.
Taiwan’s Premier Badminton Player is the type who gives a lot of advice but is also humble enough to ask for it. Chou Tien Chen doesn’t hesitate to ask questions and seek help when he needs it, especially from his peers. His character makes him an icon in badminton and a great role model for up-and-coming players.
The Premier Badminton Player Now
It’s undeniable that Chou Tien Chen has already succeeded, but he’s still setting higher goals. He’s already made a mark on the badminton world and is still off to make bigger ones. Taiwan’s premier badminton player has already worked with big sports brands like Yonex. His highest world rank is number two, and he’s currently playing in tournaments to keep ranking up.
Chou Tien Chen has been in the game for years and has seen a lot of triumphs, but he continues to work hard to become the best badminton player he can be. He’s out to prove to everyone that he still has something to offer. Badminton fans are all waiting for the day when he will be crowned as the world’s top men’s singles badminton player!
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