Badminton Life

Tony Gunawan Interview

Date: 15/7/2012

Tony Gunawan Interview

Tony Gunawan born on 9th of April 1975 in Surabaya, Indonesia

Gunawan is a Olympic Gold Medalist and 2 times World champion from Indonesia, and now represents the United States. He is regarded by many, including his peers, as one of the greatest doubles player's in badminton's history.

A superb all-around player with a particular flexibility in the forecourt, his versatility in doubles is unmatched, having won the 2000 Olympics gold medal, the 2001 World Championships, and 2005 World Championships with 3 different partners.

He won the Men's Doubles gold medal in the 2005 IBF World Championships from the 13th seeded position with his American partner Howard Bach. Gunawan partnered with Halim Haryanto to win the 2001 IBF World Championships as well as the 2001 All-England Open, and with Candra Wijaya to win the 2000 Olympics Games in Sydney.

He was a member of the world champion 1998 and 2000 edition Indonesia Thomas Cup team, winning his final match against China with yet another partner, Rexy Mainaky in the 2000 edition.

In 2005,Tony Gunawan partnered American born Vietnamese Howard Bach and surprisingly won the 2005 IBF World Championships Men's Doubles gold over Gunawan's ex-partner Wijaya and Sigit Budiarto who were also finalists in the 2003 IBF World Championships in the same event.

Tony played for Indonesia from 1992-2001 and is the winner of 35 International titles. He has coached and played for USA since 2002. Tony was studying in Orange County, California and coaches at San Gabriel Badminton Club 2 (Pomona).



- Dutch Open(1*) (Victo Wibowo)- CHAMPION
- French Open (Grade A) (Victo Wibowo) - CHAMPION


- Copenhagen Masters (Candra Wijaya) - CHAMPION
- Swedish Open (Candra Wijaya) - CHAMPION
- Thomas Cup (Team) - CHAMPION
- Malaysia Open (5*) (Halim Haryanto) - CHAMPION
- Brunei Open (4*) (Halim Haryanto) - CHAMPION
- Hong Kong Open (5*) (Candra Wijaya) - CHAMPION


- All England Championship (Candra Wijaya) - CHAMPION
- Malaysia Open(5*) (Candra Wijaya)- CHAMPION
- Ipoh Masters (Candra Wijaya) - CHAMPION
- World Grand Prix Finals (7*) (Candra Wijaya) - CHAMPION


- Japan Open (5*)(Candra Wijaya) - CHAMPION
- Thomas Cup (Rexy Mainaky) - CHAMPION
- Indonesia Open (5*) (Candra Wijaya) - CHAMPION
- Olympic Games Champion (Candra Wijaya) - CHAMPION
- World Grand Prix Finals Championship (7*)(Candra Wijaya) - CHAMPION


- All England Championship (Halim Haryanto) - CHAMPION
- World Championship (7*) (Halim Haryanto) - CHAMPION


- US Open (1*) (Bob Malaythong) - CHAMPION
- Puerto Rico Open (Grade A) (Bob Malaythong) - CHAMPION
- SCBA Classic (Grade A) (Bob Malaythong) - CHAMPION


- US Open (1*) (Bob Malaythong) - CHAMPION


- US Open (1*) (Howard Bach) - CHAMPION
- Dutch Open (2*)(Howard Bach) - CHAMPION


- USA SCBA International (Grade A)(Howard Bach) - CHAMPION
- World Championship (7*) (Howard Bach) - CHAMPION
- German Open (3*) (Halim Haryanto) - CHAMPION
- OCBC Yonex International (Grade A) (Howard Bach) - CHAMPION
- Chinese Taipei Open (3*) (Halim Haryanto) - CHAMPION
- Copenhagen Master (Howard Bach) - CHAMPION


- Indonesia Open (6*) (Candra Wijaya) ) - CHAMPION
- US Open (1*)(Candra Wijaya) ) - CHAMPION
- Korea open (6*)(Candra Wijaya) ) - CHAMPION
- Japan Open (5*)(Candra Wijaya) ) - CHAMPION


- Japan Open Super Series(Candra Wijaya) ) - CHAMPION

1. What age did you start playing?

At the age of 5.

2. Was it your intention to be a professional player from the start?

Well my parents were playing badminton. Well of course when you start playing, you won't know until when your coach or parents notice that you have the talent and then you keep going from there.

3. When did you realize you were good enough to be a world beater?

When I was asked to joined the national team and I know that I was good enough. At the age of 18.

4. How were you noticed at the national level?

Basically you have to be at the top 4 in national junior ranking. At that time I was playing singles and doubles but mostly doubles.

5. Which year was you drafted into the national squad?


6. Have you ever considered making a name in singles?

Hmm, in singles? It's too hard...haha. Well of course everyone started with playing singles well after until 16 or 17 you will know what kind of player are you.

7. Did any of your batch mates made the same grade as you?

Yeah, Candra Wijaya and Sigit Budiarto

8. How many years were you on the scene?

From 18 years old till now, almost 20years.

9. At one point in 2002 you decided to stop the sport for awhile right? Why?

Well, I moved to USA to pursue my studies, but in 2005 surprisingly I won the World Championship with Howard Bach. And after that we received a lot of invitation and a lot of travelling, and it's hard to juggle it with my studies and had to drop out.

10. Back then, in 2005 World Championship what was your goal after stopping the sport for quite some time?

At that time our goals was the semi-finals. I've stopped completely until 2004 from playing competitive badminton. Then decided to try playing for a year until 2005 as USA was hosting the World Championship and surprisingly we got the goal.

11. On your playing career which was the highlight of your career?

Of course the 2000 Olympic Game. The 2001 and 2005 World Championship.

12. Which incident would you consider as a low point of your career?

Umm, actually right now is the lowest and ranking wise right now we are the lowest. It's because we have family now, I have 2 sons and Howard has 1 son. So there's not much travelling right now for tournaments.

13. How would you summarize your career?

Yeah, I'm very happy. I got Olympic Gold, All England, Thomas Cup and 2 times World Champion with 3 different partners. Yeah, I'm quite satisfied.

14. What other sports other than badminton?

I do play some table tennis. I do like watching Tennis and Basketball games. Just watching but not playing.

15. What do you think of the new points scoring system after being through so many era's of the game?

The 21 points scoring system is helping players like me, who is considered old for the sport. To keep playing compare with the old scoring system, the rally 15 point scoring system; the duration of game is not as long as before.

With this scoring system, everyone change their style. Everything now is fast, speed and power. You have to have more concentration and focus as one mistake is a point. The rallies would be shorter as everyone would try to force each other for errors.

16. Which player you admire at the start, both at the local and the international scene?

I would admire Christian Hadinata and Park Joo Bong. Both of these greats played the similar style of game as me. Both players were very good at the net areas and they are very good playmakers.

17. As a player, what was your strength? Weakness, if any?

My strength is picking up good partners (laughs). Well for weaknesses, maybe I'm not powerful. I'm always hiding at the front and setting up for my partner (laughs).

18. Is it important to have a favorite stroke?

Yes of course it's important. It can be your weapon but you have to be careful as it could be your weakness as people would know your strength. But it's very important.

19. What's your favourite stroke then?

Net (laughs). Basically the net areas.

20. Can you name a few international players, current or retired, who you regard as best or famous for a specific technique or an area of skills?

Sigit Budiarto and Rexy Mainaky and Park Joo Bong. As for Sigit Budiarto he's one of a kind. I don't think you would find another player like him anymore. He's very tricky, has a great defence.

He can retrieve shots from all kind of weird positions. As for Rexy Mainaky, he's good in defence and attack. He has strong hand and he can play anything.

As for Park Joo Bong, like I said before he is very stable and great at the front court. For the current players, Lee Yong Dae is a very steady player. Cai Yun and Fu HeiFeng, as the most consistent pairs at the moment, in terms of performance.

21. Who do you regard as the all time best player? Youself?

(laughs) no, I would say Christian Hadinata.

22. Who were your coaches during your international days?

I have 3 coaches first and they are Christian Hadinata, then Johari and Herry. When I first started out, it would be my father. Now in the US we train ourselves.

When the match gets very intense, sometimes our friends would help out like Halim Haryanto as we don't have national team in the USA. Our friends don't travel with us abroad as we live in a different city and sponsor wise and we participate in different tournaments.

23. Can you spell out the difference in coaching styles from China, Korea, Malaysia, Denmark and Indonesia?

Well, I've never trained in China and Denmark or Korea. But I would say Malaysia and Indonesia has very similar training methods.

24. Why did you come to Malaysia?

Yeah it's for training purposes and it's on our route in our Asia tour. First of all I want to thank BAM for giving us great sparing with the backup players and great coaches.

25. Do good players make good coaches?

Both ways, good coach make a good player and good player make a good coach. Everything works both ways.

26. You are coaching at the moment, what's the difference?

As player you just have to take care of yourself. As a coach you got to take care of many individual. It's quite different.

27. How many hours to you trained?

Well I trained around 2 to 3 hours every day and in the evening I would do coaching. Around 6 hours a day when I was in Indonesia.

28. What are the basic requirements to playing good badminton?

Good hand and eye coordination. You have to have great reflexes. Explosiveness in legs and hands. In badminton it covers everything from head to toe and mentally. So you have to have strength in these areas.

29. Who is your favourite partner as you have change many partners before?

There's no particularly one partner, as everyone is different and has their own speciality. I have so many partners. I have even partnered Rexy at one point. That's why I said my strength is picking up good partner(laughs). Well everyone is different and has their own strength and weaknesses, it's more important on how you adjust yourself with different partners.

30. Who do you think is current upcoming players ? and why?

I think Lee Yong Dae would be here for a while as he's still young, fortunately until the next Olympics. KO Sung Hyun and YOO Yeon Seong from Korea. I think these 3 players would be very strong in a few years time.

As for Indonesia, I'm not too sure how old are Mohammad Ahsan and Bona Septano but I think they are still young. As for Malaysia, KKK and Tan Boon Heong is still young. I think Malaysia has a few upcoming pairs like Tan Wee Kiong and Lim Khim Wah and etc. T hey show their talent and the potential but not so stable yet. Just have to wait for their maturity in the game and how strong is their will to stay on and fight for their goals.

31. After winning the World Championship, you stopped partnering Howard and you partnered Candra Wijaya right?

Yes, in 2006 actually I partner with Candra again because Howard had to partner other players for the Beijing Olympics 2008. I'm not eligible of competing the Beijing Olympics.

So I called Candra and he told me he just left national team. Candra said why not, we can play for fun. Our first tournament would be the Indonesia Open as I was going back for holidays and kept going there.

32. is planning to start a badminton league. Do you think it will increase the level of the players especially the backup players? and why?

Yes of course, this is very important. This is how the big sports are to create great exposure and talents. Back in Indonesia they have a lot of small team event tournaments. As long as there's a lot of activity within the sports, it's very good for the sports and development.

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