Feature | Badminton

Taufik Hidayat relives clinching gold at 2004 Olympic Games

The Indonesian took gold at Athens 2004 and remains the last player from his nation to win the singles title at a Games 

By Sanjeev Palar ·

Taufik Hidayat remains the last Indonesian badminton player to win a singles gold medal at the Olympic Games.

The country is a badminton powerhouse in the Olympics, winning seven gold medals in the sport. However, none have come in singles since Athens 2004.

Hidayat, the men's champion that year, shared exclusively with Olympic Channel his thoughts and approach to the final on that unforgettable day, when he came from behind to defeat South Korea’s Shon Seung Mo, as well as the sacrifices he made in order to become the best player he could be for his nation.

“I sacrificed everything for my country.” - Taufik Hidayat

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Carrying the hopes of the nation

Hidayat had a restless night before the final.

“I couldn’t sleep much before the match,” he shares. “I only slept for two or three hours.”

Thoughts of victory and defeat swirled around his head, preventing him from getting the vital rest that he needed before going up against Shon.

There was a lot at stake for the nation, as he was the only badminton player, and only Indonesian athlete left competing in Athens, to have made the final.

“Men’s doubles and mixed doubles had already lost,” he remembers.

“There was no more hope from other sports.

“The last chance to win a gold medal was from badminton."

The day earlier, after Hidayat had booked his ticket to the gold medal match, he watched his compatriot and eighth seed Sony Dwi Koncoro take on Shon in the other semi-final.

“As an Indonesian, I wanted Sony to win as we could have been assured of winning a gold medal.

“But a little part of me wanted to play against the Korean. It would have been hard for me to play against Sony.”

Shon dashed hopes of an all-Indonesian final and a sleepless night ensued for Hidayat.

Coming from behind

Hidayat had a poor start to the match and was trailing 0-6 in the first game.

He recounts how his “hands were shaking” and asked his coach, “'How can I overcome this nervous feeling?' I couldn’t play.”

However, as the match progressed, Shon failed to fully capitalise on his opponent's weakness and Hidayat slowly began to pick up points and got back into the game.

“I was catching up the score. After the score was 7-7, then it was my turn.” he recalls with a smile, adding: “after that, I was running like a monster.”

After a shaky start, Hidayat went on to win the match in straight games, 15-8 15-7, to clinch Olympic gold.

It was only the second time Indonesia had claimed he men’s singles title since Alan Budikusuma won the inaugural gold medal when the sport made its debut at Barcelona 1992.

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It was testament to the 39-year-old's huge sacrifices in his life as a youth to become the best player in the world.

“When I committed to becoming an athlete I put aside everything else, my family and my friends.

"I only focused on trainings and tournaments, and on getting good results.

“It was very hard fighting for the country. But all the hard work and support finally paid off.” - Taufik Hidayat

Taufik HIDAYAT

Indonesia
Badminton
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Number of medals

1 Olympic medals

1

Olympic Games

4 Olympic Games