Indonesia has always stacked up well against other badminton nations. While we can attribute the Indonesian domination of badminton to several players, one was pivotal in the country’s modern badminton history. I’m talking about the legendary Rudy Gunawan!
Rudy Gunawan wasborn on December 31, 1966, in Surakarta, Central Java, Indonesia. A two-time Olympian and badminton World Champion, Rudy Gunawan was one of the greatest Indonesian doubles specialists of the 90s. Gunawan is famous for his multiple Badminton World Cup reigns and Southeast Asian Games titles. Between 1989 and 1995, Rudy Gunawan was one of the most successful doubles players in the early International Badminton Federation (IBF) World Grand Prix, capturing numerous titles with Bambang Suprianto and Rosiana Tendean.
I use the word “legendary” sparingly, but for this player, no other adjective comes close. Find out more about the legendary Rudy Gunawan’s career and accomplishments in my latest edition of Player Profile!
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Early Badminton Achievements
In 1988, the up-and-coming Gunawan participated in several high-profile IBF and international-level tournaments, including the Badminton World Cup and Dutch Open. In both outings, Gunawan won bronze and silver, respectively.
In 1989, Gunawan chalked up several podium-worthy finishes in the IBF World Grand Prix and International Series. His first World Grand Prix medal of the year came at the 1989 All England where he was a finalist alongside Eddy Hartono.
With Hartono, Gunawan also took home bronze at the 1989 World Championships. After the World Championships, Gunawan won his first senior title at the 1989 Dutch Open. There, he bagged gold in the men’s doubles event with Eddy Hartono. Gunawan also competed as a mixed doubles player alongside Rosiana Tendean. The pair won silver at the event.
After the Dutch Open, Gunawan competed in his first SEA Games. At the 1989 SEA Games, he dominated the men’s doubles event with Eddy Hartono. The pair won their first SEA Games titles after defeating Malaysia’s Jalani Sidek and Razif Sidek in the finals.
The title haul didn’t stop there. Gunawan and Hartono followed up their SEA Games victory by winning the 1989 Indonesia Open. For the mixed doubles event, Gunawan and Tendean bagged silver once again.
90s Dominance of the IBF World Grand Prix
Between 1990 and 1995, Gunawan was a dominant force in the IBF World Grand Prix. During this time, he was a mainstay on the podium, winning titles with several partners. He paired up with Eddy Hartono and Bambang Suprianto for the men’s doubles events. For mixed doubles, Gunawan stayed with Rosiana Tendean.
In 1990, Gunawan and Tendean won the mixed doubles event of the 1990 Indonesian Open. Less than a week after the event, Gunawan and Hartono defeated China’s Li Yongbo and Tian Bingyi to win the 1990 Singapore Open.
From 1991 to 1992, Gunawan and Hartono won four World Grand Prix titles. The powerhouse duo strung up an impressive hat trick of victories at the 1991 Dutch Open, 1991 German Open, and 1991 Thailand Open.
At the start of 1992, the Gunawan-Hartono tandem once again established dominance at the 1992 All-England. The pair won their All England title after defeating Danish favorites Jan Paulsen and Henrik Svarrer.
Gunawan and Hartono’s winning ways didn’t stop there as the duo won another title at the 1992 Indonesia Open. The victory was special not just because the pair won on home soil. The 1992 Indonesian Open was also the last time Gunawan and Hartono played together.
Hartono’s departure meant that Rudy Gunawan needed a new partner. Luckily, one came — Bambang Suprianto.
The newly formed men’s doubles pair started 1993 on a high note, winning silver at the 1993 German Open. Months later, they won their first World Grand Prix title at the 1993 Thailand Open after defeating their compatriots Imay Hendra and Dicky Purwotjugiono in the finals.
Meanwhile, Gunawan was doing well as a mixed doubles player with Tendean. The duo chalked up title victories at the 1993 Indonesia Open and Hong Kong Open.
Between 1994 and 1995, Gunawan and Suprianto won four more World Grand Prix titles. Besides the 1994 Chinese Taipei Open and 1994 All England, the pair won back-to-back titles at the 1995 Indonesia Open and the 1995 U.S. Open.
All in all, Gunawan won nearly 20 doubles World Grand Prix titles in just seven years. As a result, Gunawan climbed to the top of the World Rankings by the end of 1995.
Rudy Gunawan’s Three-year Reign as Mixed Doubles World Cup Champion
Much has been said of Gunawan’s achievements as a men’s doubles player. However, he was equally a mixed doubles success with Rosiana Tendean by his side.
The pair won their first World Cup title in 1990. At the 1990 Badminton World Cup, Gunawan and Tendean defeated Jan Paulsen and Gillian Gowers in a nail-biting three-game match.
In 1991, Gunawan and Tendean set out to defend their mixed doubles World Cup title — and succeeded. The pair held on to their mixed doubles crown after defeating Danes Thomas Lund and Pernille Dupont in the finals.
Eying a second successful defense, Rudy Gunawan and Rosiana Tendean competed at the 1992 World Cup. There, they advanced to the finals to face Jan Paulsen and Gillian Gowers. Like their last meeting, the Indonesian team won.
By winning, Rudy Gunawan and Rosiana Tendean became the first Indonesian mixed doubles pair to win the World Cup three years in a row!
Rudy Gunawan was also a two-time Olympian. At the 1992 Olympics, Gunawan competed in his first Olympic event alongside Eddy Hartono. The pair dominated the group and the qualifying stages to reach the finals.
Unfortunately, the pair lost at the hands of South Korea’s Kim Moon Soo and Park Joo Bong. Nevertheless, Gunawan and Hartono’s performance throughout the tournament was enough for an Olympic silver medal.
The pair took one more crack at gold in the 1996 Olympics. However, they failed to make it past the qualifying stages, placing ninth at the event.
What Rudy Gunawan Is Doing Now
After the Olympics, Rudy Gunawan retired from international competition. Hanging up his racket, Rudy Gunawan migrated to the United States where he pursued a career as a pastor.
He’s now the head reverend of Miracle Center USA, a Christian organization based in St. Rancho, California. He’s married and has five children.
Rudy Gunawan excelled during a time when Indonesia was establishing itself as a badminton powerhouse. By bringing glory to the country, he paved the way for younger shuttlers looking to break into the sport.
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