Indonesia has always had a reputation for producing top men’s doubles talent. When you look at the 90s doubles badminton scene, you’ll find that the country dominated the doubles division as it does today. The 90s Indonesian badminton scene is full of many great names. However, if I had to think of another one — besides the legendary Rexy Mainaky — it would be the man he paired up with: the equally decorated and skillful Ricky Achmad Subagdja!
Ricky Achmad Subagdja was one of the most well-decorated men’s doubles players in the 90s badminton scene. Together with the legendary Rexy Mainaky, Subagdja won numerous accolades, including the 1995 World Championships and the 1996 Olympics. From 1995 to 2000, Subagdja and Mainaky amassed more than 30 international titles, including two All England Championships and four Indonesia Opens. He and his partner were also famous for their three-time World Grand Prix Final victories and for winning the Japan Open three years in a row. Subagdja called time on an illustrious career in 2000 and became part of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Hall of Fame in 2009, alongside his longtime partner Rexy Mainaky.
Truly, Ricky Achmad Subagdja is a legend of the sport. Learn more about this legendary men’s doubles specialist from Indonesia!
Early Life and Badminton Beginnings
Ricky Subagdja was born on January 27, 1971, in Bandung, West Java. He began badminton at an early age, quickly developing his athletic prowess and shot timing. By the time he was 16, he was already going on a tear in various competitions in his hometown and nearby parts of West Java.
He played his first international tournament in 1987 at the inaugural Bimantara World Junior Championships. He competed in the boys’ doubles event alongside a young Imay Hendra, placing third in his first outing.
He followed up his World Junior Championship performance a year later with a title victory. At the 1988 World Junior Championships, Subagdja bagged two titles — one in boys’ doubles and the other in mixed doubles.
On top of that, he also placed third in the boys’ singles event, dominating the event before losing to China’s Wu Wenkai.
In 1989, Subagdja caught the attention of the national team. As a result, he was selected to join the Indonesian national team at just 18 years old, becoming one of the youngest players on the team.
Partnership With Rexy Mainaky and Earliest Title Victories
Subagdja made his senior debut in 1989 following his national team selection. One of his first outings was at the 1989 Swiss Open. He competed in several other tournaments that year until the end of 1990 but had no titles to show for his performances.
All that changed in 1991. At the 1991 Polish International, Subagdja paired up with Rexy Mainaky to win his first men’s doubles title. The title victory set the tone for what would be a successful run at the International Badminton Federation (IBF) World Grand Prix.
In 1992, Subagdja and Mainaky dominated the Grand Prix circuit, winning four titles including the 1992 World Grand Prix Finals.
A year later, the duo bagged three more Grand Prix titles at the 1993 Swedish Open, Malaysia Open, and Indonesia Open. Perhaps the pair’s biggest achievement of the year was their victory at the 1993 World Championships.
The momentum of a successful 1993 campaign carried over to the duo’s quest for more titles in 1994. That year, Subagdja and Mainaky bagged five Grand Prix Titles including another Grand Prix Finals title. Also, they won the 1994 Asian Cup and Asian Games.
Dominance of the IBF Grand Prix
Ricky Achmad Subagdja and Rexy Mainaky dominated the Grand Prix circuit between 1995 and 1999. During that time, the pair amassed 14 titles, including three Japan Opens, two more Indonesia Opens, and two All England titles.
The pair’s Japan Open victories were particularly impressive for one reason — they happened three years in a row!
Subagdja and Mainaky won their first Japan Open in 1995 after defeating their compatriots Rudy Gunawan and Bambang Suprianto. Since that year, the duo has gone on to bag two more Japan Opens in 1996 and 1997.
The pair’s All England victories were equally impressive as they defeated some of the best teams in men’s doubles. In 1995, Ricky Achmad Subagdja and Rexy Mainaky defeated their compatriots Anthonius Ariantho and Denny Kantono to win their first All England title. A year later, Subagdja and Mainaky successfully defended their All England crowns against Malaysia’s Yap Kim Hock and Cheah Soon Kit to bring their All England tally to two.
Towards the end of his career, Subagdja aimed to leave a lasting impression on his Indonesian fans. To this end, he and his partner Mainaky bagged back-to-back Indonesian Open titles — one in 1998 and another in 1999.
Of all his achievements, Ricky Achmad Subagdja’s most significant one occurred in 1996 when he won the Olympics.
The two teams fought tooth and nail to win a game each. In the third game, Subagdja and Mainaky capitalized on an error to establish a critical two-point lead.
Winning the third game, Subagdja and Mainaky won the match and the title of Olympic Gold Medalists!
Calling It Quits, Hall of Fame Induction, and Legacy
Following his quarterfinal finish with Mainaky at the 2000 Olympic Games, Ricky Achmad Subagdja announced his retirement from competition. The announcement came in early 2001.
At just 30 years of age, Subagdja surprised many fans when he made his announcement since he had yet to reach his athletic prime. Nevertheless, Subagdja was adamant in his decision, saying that he wanted to move on to the next phase of his life outside competitive badminton.
Despite having retired, Subagdja remained active in the sport as a commentator and coach for the Indonesian junior team. Eight years after his surprising announcement, the BWF inducted Subagdja into the Badminton Hall of Fame.
Ricky Achmad Subagdja is a pioneer of the sport internationally. He is living proof of what’s possible in men’s doubles badminton. He raised the bar for Indonesian badminton and served as the golden standard for the country’s doubles talent.
As one of the sport’s legendary doubles specialists, Ricky Achmad Subagdja will continue to inspire young talent in and out of his home country.
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