Feature | Badminton

Taufik Hidayat says mental strength key for Ginting and Christie at Tokyo 2020

The 2004 Olympic champion shares what it will take for Indonesia's Anthony Ginting and Jonatan Christie to achieve success on their Games debut.

By Sanjeev Palar ·

Despite retiring from badminton seven years ago, Taufik Hidayat remains a legend in Indonesia.

The Bandung-born shuttler sent the nation into a frenzy when he clinched gold at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, ending its men's singles title drought since Alan Budikusuma won the inaugural gold at Barcelona 1992.

No other Indonesian has managed to repeat the feat since.

Hidayat looked back on that defining moment exclusively with Olympic Channel, and shared his thoughts and advice to his nation's medal hopefuls, Anthony Ginting and Jonatan Christie, who will make Games debuts at Tokyo 2020.

"I was the one person from amongst 240 million people in Indonesia... who managed to win an Olympic gold medal." - Taufik Hidayat to Olympic Channel

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Carrying the weight of a nation on one's shoulders

Since Hidayat's retirement, Indonesia has failed to produce a male singles player of his calibre.

However, Ginting and Christie could reach that level with their gradual rise through the world rankings leaving them well on course to qualify for the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Christie, 23, who won the 2018 Asian Games title, and 24-year-old Ginting, runner-up at the 2019 World Tour Finals, are expected to be among the seeded players in Japan.

That gives the nation high hopes of ending its singles medal drought.

But the scene is all too familiar to Hidayat who cautions that the duo need to be prepared to carry the hopes and expectations of the nation on their shoulders.

Speaking from experience, the 39-year-old shares that it is a daunting task requiring extraordinary levels of mental strength, more so during an Olympic Games.

"If they don't have a strong mentality, they will be crushed. They have to be strong enough to fend off those who pressure them" - Taufik Hidayat to Olympic Channel

The two-time Thomas Cup winner also thinks that both players lack consistency in their game, adding "If you look at their tournament performances as a graph, it fluctuates."

He believes with more training, and a focus on honing their physical, mental and technical skills, they can both go on to achieve great things.

Hidayat feels that Ginting holds the upper hand right now, calling him a "more complete player." However, he also views Christie as "very good".

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Shaping the next generation

Hidayat grew in stature from his Olympic success and went on to clinch the 2005 World Championship title, becoming the first men's single player to hold the Olympic and world title in consecutive years.

Over a career spanning over 17 years on the national team, he amassed 18 tour titles and three Asian Games gold medals.

Since retiring, Hidayat has focused his energy towards the Taufik Hidayat Arena, a training centre he built himself as a way to pass on his knowledge of the game and unearth future players.

"I want to develop young players so they can grow." Taufik Hidayat to Olympic Channel