A towering force in badminton, Indonesia has enjoyed extremely successful outings at the Olympics. Picking up an awe-inspiring 19 medals till date, Indonesia has been reigning supreme in badminton since the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics, when badminton made its debut at the quadrennial sporting event.
Constantly making a mark with their performances, the Indonesian brigade of highly talented and legendary shuttlers like Taufik Hidayat, Susi Susanti, Alan Budikusuma and Ardy Wiranata helped make the Southeast Asian nation a perennially dominant force in badminton.
Placed only second behind China's whopping 41-medal haul at the Olympics, Indonesia's record of 19 medals includes seven golds and six each of silver and bronze.
With the Tokyo Olympics scheduled to begin on July 23 later this year, Indonesia's badminton squad will once again be licking their chops. All hopes will be pinned on Anthony Ginting, Jonatan Christie, Tommy Sugiarto and the budding Gregoria Mariska Tunjung as they head to Tokyo hoping to add to their nation's Olympic legacy.
The reason behind Indonesia's badminton excellence
Unlike the military style of play practiced by the Chinese, the Indonesians employ a blend of technique as well as magic, treating the racquet more like a wand than a weapon.
Led by legendary badminton couple Susi Susanti and Alan Budikusuma, Indonesia bagged top honors at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and set the ball of success rolling. Such was the dominance of the Indonesian contingent on that occasion that they bagged all three medals in the men's singles category, with Budikusuma being joined on the podium by Ardy Wiranata (silver) and Hermawan Susanto (bronze).
Soon, it was the chocolate boy of badminton, Taufik Hidayat, who heralded further success for Indonesia, winning gold at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
A six-time Indonesia Open winner and former world champion as well, Hidayat was ridiculously talented with the racquet and gave the likes of Lin Dan, Lee Chong Wei and Peter Gade a run for their money, and remains of the greatest Indonesian shuttlers.
Indonesian players to watch out for at the Tokyo Olympics
Interestingly enough, Indonesia has always returned home with at least one medal in badminton from every edition of the Olympics since 1992 except the 2012 London Games. With such a rich tradition to uphold, there will be quite a bit of pressure on both the singles as well as doubles candidates heading to Tokyo this year.
On the men's singles front, World No. 5 Anthony Ginting and World No. 7 Jonatan Christie will be grabbing the most eyeballs as they venture on their quest for an Olympic medal in Tokyo. So far into 2021, Ginting has fared well enough, making it to the semi-finals of the Thailand Open in January, as has Christie, with a quarter-final appearance at the same event being his best so far. However, there is still some room for improvement for these two talented shuttlers in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympics.
In the women's category, Indonesia's hopes will be rested on 21-year-old Gregoria Mariska Tunjung. Bearing traces of Susi's style of play in her game, Tunjung has a lot of potential and can be expected to bring home a medal.
Indonesia has also dominated in the men's doubles category as well. The World No. 1 'Minions' pair of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sukamuljo and World No. 2 duo of Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan are expected to earn laurels from Tokyo. Additionally, Setiawan was a gold medalist at the 2008 Beijing Games and will be looking to repeat history, albeit with a different partner this time. Aside from the two leading duos, the pairing of Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Ardianto can also be expected to shake things up in Tokyo.
While there are no such strong contenders in the women's doubles category, the Indonesians are set for success in mixed doubles. With two pairs of players neatly tucked into the top 16 in the Race to Tokyo rankings, Indonesia is on course to win medals in this category as well. The World No. 4 duo of Praveen Jordan-Melati Oktavianti and World No. 8 pair of Hafiz Faizal-Gloria Widjaja are Indonesia's candidates for Olympic glory in the mixed doubles.
With a rich and storied tradition on the line, these shuttlers will have a lot on their plate as they set sail for Tokyo, aiming to re-assert Indonesia's dominance in the world of badminton by bagging a medal or two.