Taufik Hidayat was born in Bandung, Indonesia on 10 August, 1981. He started playing regional level Badminton by the age of 9 and made his International debut in 1996. The retired Olympic gold medalist now helps new talent at Taufik Hidayat Arena, a Badminton training academy he established in November of 2012.
Taufik Hidayat joined his hometown based badminton club known as SGS Club at a very young age where he started to develop his Badminton skills under Iie Sumirat. As Hidayat mentions in an interview, he was ‘forced’ to play the game by his father. After joining Pelatnas in the year 1996 the young player trained under Mulyono and Joko Suprianto after which his career decorated with silvers and golds began.
Rise to glory
Hidayat’s uprising began in late 90s when he won a gold at the 1998 Asian games while bagging a bronze at the Asian Championship in the same year. These were followed by a bronze medal in the 1999 Sudirman cup and another gold in the 1999 Southeast Asian games at Brunei. In 1999, Taufik was ranked world number 3 and had already made a name for himself in his country. He was highly praised after finishing as the runner up at the 1999 All England open. Through the years Taufik developed his style which while being very straightforward, was deadly for opponents. He was master of making most out of his opponent’s mistake and winning rally after rally.
Having started to win medals at a young age, Taufik’s career started achieving great heights very early on but his highest achievement came at the 2004 Athens Olympics where he won the gold medal after defeating Shon Seung Mo in the men’s singles final. He also grabbed the gold at the Asian Championship in the same year and was the awardee of “Eddy Choong Player of the Year" award as well. Alongside a variety of shots and plays that he had in his arsenal, the shuttler is best known for his signature move, the incredibly powerful backhand smash. He is also praised for his drop shots, deception skills and the ability to quickly understand the nature of his opponent’s game.
For all his achievements, Taufik’s career had a relatively early ending. He was many times in critics’ eyes for his lack of concern over his fitness especially after 2008. This lack of fitness also led to his steep decline which is evident from his lack of medals after 2010. While still a great player to watch, he was unable to compete with younger players who were faster than him. Although he did bring successful changes to his playing style, they did not always work and could not bring out his peak level play.
As all good things must come to an end, Taufik’s playing career came to an end when the past World Champion took retirement in 2014. The man is working hard to nurture more players like him at his academy at East Jakarta. He pioneered the backhand smash and holds the record of the fastest smash ever alongside his Olympic medal, 4 World Championship medals, 6 Asian Games medals, 6 Asian Championship medals, 4 Southeast Asian games medals, 6 Thomas Cup medals and 5 Sudirman Cup medals.