Not all players can claim to have made an impact on the national badminton scenes of their countries. Of the very few that do, only a handful can claim the status of “legend.” In Indonesia, however, one badminton player has acted as the sport’s ambassador even after retirement. This badminton player is none other than the Indonesian Legend, Taufik Hidayat.
Taufik Hidayat was born in Bandung, Indonesia, on August 10, 1981. Taufik Hidayat was famous for his multiple gold-medal wins at the South East Asian Games. He’s also known the world over for winning gold in the 2004 Olympics. Most importantly, Taufik Hidayat was famous for his infamous backhand strike and his dominance of the Indonesia Open. Taufik Hidayat has received recognition for placing Indonesian badminton on the map, blazing the trail for future Indonesian badminton stars. He retired in 2013.
Learn more about the man who revolutionized the backhand and placed Indonesian badminton on the map!
Taufik Hidayat took his first steps in the game under odd circumstances. Growing up, Taufik Hidayat didn’t initially take to a racket and shuttlecock; in fact, in an interview with Badminton World Federation (BWF) TV, he confessed that he played football as a child. He ended up trying badminton under the influence of his father.
With his father’s encouragement and support, the young Taufik Hidayat joined a local badminton club in his hometown of Bandung. There, he caught the eye of Iie Sumirat, one of Indonesia’s “Magnificent Seven” during the sport’s golden age in the country.
A veteran of numerous tournaments including the first BWF World Championship, Iie Sumirat was a mentor to the young Taufik Hidayat. Under the guidance of Sumirat, Taufik Hidayat trained and competed.
Taufik Hidayat competed in his first international competition when he turned 17. The tournament was the 1998 Brunei Open. It was an international tournament where the best in Southeast Asia and beyond competed.
In the finals, Taufik Hidayat went against China’s Dong Jiong. Hidayat defeated his opponent, winning his first major gold medal and the $100,000 cash prize.
In the same year, Taufik Hidayat competed in the Asian Championships and the Indonesia Open. Hidayat reached the semi-finals in the 1998 Asian Championships. He also managed to reach the semi-final stages two months later at the Indonesia Open.
Taufik Hidayat closed his 1998 career with a gold medal win at the Asian Games as part of the Indonesian team.
A Resurgent 1999 Campaign
Despite decent performances in 1998, Taufik Hidayat wanted to come back for gold in 1999. This desire for gold medal glory as a singles competitor was apparent in his performances on the court.
One of his earliest exploits in 1999 was the prestigious All England Open. The 1999 All England Open featured many of the badminton world’s most skilled shuttlers. Despite it being his first All-England Open, Taufik Hidayat put on an impressive show before the Birmingham crowd, reaching the finals.
In the finals, he met a formidable opponent in Danish star, Peter Gade. Taufik Hidayat lost to Peter Gade, settling for silver. Although coming short of a gold medal win, Hidayat’s All-England outing was still a feat for two reasons: besides the fact that it was his first, he was only 17 at the time.
On August 14, Taufik Hidayat competed at the Southeast Asian Games for the first time. He defeated Malaysian shuttler, Wong Choong Han, in the finals. By doing so, Taufik Hidayat won his first gold medal in his first Southeast Asian Games outing.
Taufik Hidayat followed up his SEA Games victory with a stunning performance in the 1999 Indonesia Open. In his second Indonesia Open, he decisively defeated fellow Indonesian, Budi Santoso, winning the tournament.
Since his Indonesia Open victory in 1999, he has dominated the same tournament five additional times.
Becoming World Number 1
Taufik Hidayat continued his winning ways well into 2000. In 2000, Taufik Hidayat chalked up three gold medal-worthy performances at major tournaments. He was also a runner-up in the 2000 All England Open Championships.
Hidayat won his second Indonesian Open in July 2000. Following his impressive performance on home soil, he set forth to win two titles in two major competitions.
Taufik Hidayat defeated China’s Xia Xuanze in the finals of the 2000 Malaysian Open. The second game was decided by a tie-breaking two points. With the win, Hidayat avenged his loss to his Chinese opponent in their earlier meeting at the 2000 All England Open.
At the 2000 Asia Badminton Championships, Hidayat defeated fellow Indonesian badminton player, Rony Augustinus. The gold medal in November gave Hidayat a more-than-stellar finish to his 2000 campaign, propelling him up the badminton world rankings.
In 2000, Taufik Hidayat claimed the world number one spot. What makes this achievement more impressive is that he was only 19 at the time, and only two years into his pro badminton career!
Hidayat’s Dominance of the Indonesia Open
If there’s one open badminton tournament Taufik Hidayat excels in, it’s no doubt the Indonesia Open. As I mentioned previously, since his gold medal victory in 1999, he has bagged gold medals in five other Indonesia Opens.
After winning in 1999, Taufik Hidayat dominated for the second time in a row in 2000. In the finals of the 2000 Indonesia Open, he faced Malaysian shuttler, Ong Ewe Hock. Hidayat made quick work of his Malaysian opponent in two straight games.
In the 2006 Indonesia Open, Taufik Hidayat faced another Chinese opponent, Bao Chunlai. Hidayat, once again, won the finals match decisively in two straight games.
Taufik Hidayat has won the Indonesia Open more times than any other badminton player in history. The only other men’s singles player who has matched this achievement is Ardy Wiranata — who also won the Indonesia Open six times, tying Hidayat’s record.
Taufik Hidayat has been to the Olympics four times.
His first Olympics was the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. There, he bested other skilled competitors from different nations, including his past opponent, Ong Ewe Hock. After defeating his past opponent, Taufik Hidayat moved on to the quarter-finals.
In the quarter-finals match, he faced Ji Xinpeng of China. Ji made quick work of Hidayat, finishing him off in two straight games.
Taufik Hidayat returned in 2004, thirsty for a place on the podium. During the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Hidayat beat Hidetaka Yamada — an opponent he faced in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Hidayat then moved on to the quarter-finals to face Peter Gade.
Beating Gade 15 to 12 in both games, Hidayat advanced to the semifinals to face Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand. Dominating the match, Hidayat finally made it to the finals.
One player stood in his way toward Olympic gold — Shon Seung-mo. Hidayat defeated his South Korean opponent, finally achieving his dream of winning gold at the Olympics.
Unfortunately, Hidayat wasn’t able to generate the same results in the next two Olympics. In the 2008 Olympics, Hidayat ranked 17. Four years later, he ranked ninth in the London Olympics.
Indeed, Hidayat only tasted Olympic gold once. Nevertheless, Taufik Hidayat’s 2004 gold-medal win in Athens eclipses the medal drought of his last two Olympic performances.
An Arsenal of Game-changing Moves
Besides his performances on the local and international stage, Taufik Hidayat is famous for his playing style. Hidayat has captivated spectators with his scintillating displays of badminton skill, particularly shots that change the game in an instant.
Taufik Hidayat is infamous on the court for moves like his deceptive net drops and his jump smashes. But of all the badminton shots he’s good at, no other shot strikes fear into his opponents than his signature backhand smash.
Described as “vicious,” Taufik Hidayat’s backhand smash is uncanny in force, power, and accuracy. Hidayat uses the backhand smash both offensively and defensively; by doing so, the Indonesian badminton player puts his ability to generate power from odd angles on full display. Hidayat’s backhand smash has won the player points, games, and the admiration of fans and his opponents.
Despite his prowess with the backhand smash, his forehand smash is just as deadly on the court. At the 2006 World Championships, he landed a forehand jump smash against his opponent, Ng Wei.
The shot caused the shuttlecock to travel at a blinding 305 kilometers per hour. The shot echoed throughout the arena and was the fastest forehand smash ever recorded.
If you’re curious about Hidayat’s shots and playing strategies, check out this compilation of his moves at the Olympics. Prepare to be wowed!
Final Match and Retirement
Taufik Hidayat decided to hang up his racket in 2013. The 2013 Indonesia Open was to be the swan song to an illustrious career that spanned 15 years.
At the 2013 Indonesia Open, Taufik Hidayat faced India’s Sai Praneeth B in the round of 32 draw of the men’s singles event. Hidayat won the first game, beating his opponent 21 to 15. In the second game, Praneeth came out on top by establishing a nine-point lead ahead of Hidayat.
A third game was necessary. Unfortunately, Hidayat lost 17 to 21. Praneeth B. advanced, while Hidayat left both his last Indonesia Open and the sport as a whole.
He announced his retirement in 2013. In an interview with BWF TV, Taufik Hidayat recollected how heartbreaking the decision was for him. However, despite the saddening departure from the sport, Taufik Hidayat took solace in the fact that he had prepared for retirement a long time prior.
He also admitted in the interview that, for the longest time, badminton took over his life. Taufik Hidayat expressed how happy he was that he would finally have enough time to prioritize his family.
As of February 4 2006, Taufik Hidayat is married to Ami Gumelar, daughter of ex-Indonesian Armed Forces general, Agum Gumelar. Taufik Hidayat is also a father.
Just before his retirement, Taufik Hidayat established his own badminton training center. Named the Taufik Hidayat Arena, his facility holds classes for anyone who wishes to get into badminton or improve their skills. The Taufik Hidayat Arena is also a badminton hall where people can play a game or practice their skills.
The Taufik Hidayat Arena is in Jakarta. To those who visit the place, the Arena is also known as “the house of badminton.”
An Indonesian Inspiration
Taufik Hidayat is, to many, one of the best badminton talents to come from Indonesia. As the poster boy for modern Indonesian badminton, his achievements are still echoed almost a decade after his retirement.
From his humble start in Bandung, he chalked up performances and victories that will remain in the canons of Indonesian and international badminton. His titles are a testament to how far hard work, momentum, and skill can get a player in badminton.
Taufik Hidayat inspired a new generation of badminton players with his achievements and flair on the racket. Paving the way for younger badminton talents, Taufik Hidayat will forever be the man who put Indonesian badminton on the modern map.
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