Tjun Tjun and Johan Wahjudi’s year-long doubles title drought ended in style in 1977. It was a sign of bigger things to come with the inaugural World Championships on the horizon.
It was not easy because as with most men’s doubles finals at international tournaments at that time, it was always a faceoff with their chief adversaries, Hadinata and Chandra.
First, they won their third title at the All England and set a cracking tone for a thriller at the first World Championships in Malmo, Sweden.
They were merciless. In the quarterfinals, they destroyed David Eddy/Eddy Sutton of England 15-14 15-5, and in the semis demolished Sweden’s Bengt Froman/Thomas Kihlstrom 15-7 15-11.
The masterclass of Tjun Tjun and Wahjudi blew away what was to have been a heavy-duty final at the Malmo Baltic Hall as Hadinata and Chandra succumbed meekly, 15-6 15-4.
They stamped their authority at the 1978 All England by again defeating Hadinata and Chandra and went on to defend the title the following year by winning 17-16 15-3 against Swedes, Stefan Karlsson and Claes Nordin.
Tjun Tjun and Wahjudi represented Indonesia for the third time in the Thomas Cup in 1979.
Indonesia demolished all their opponents at the intimidating Istora Senayan in Jakarta, notably a 9-0 finish of Japan in the semifinals and a 9-0 whitewash of Denmark in the final.
The defending champions were missing from the 2nd World Championships in 1980 in Jakarta due to a back injury to Tjun Tjun.
However, the duo came back in time to grab their sixth All England title.
Their six titles put them on par with Denmark’s Finn Kobbero/Jorgen Hammergaard Hansen and Ireland’s Frank Devlin/Gordon ‘Curly’ Mack for the most men’s doubles titles at the All England.
Sadly, the All England title was to be the last for Tjun Tjun and Wahjudi.
Their loss to countrymen Rudy Heryanto and Hariamanto Kartono (9-15 8-15) in the final of the All England men’s doubles the following year was a turning point.
Extremely disappointed at not getting a seventh title, they decided to split.
Tjun Tjun retired due to a recurring back problem while Wahjudi called it quits the year after.
The brotherly affection between the two was much talked about in the badminton circle. It shone brightly when injury struck Tjun Tjun at one All England.
Tjun Tjun developed back problem and a swollen foot. He was in severe pain and wanted to pull out of the tournament.
Wahjudi told an interviewer then that he prayed for Tjun Tjun and later met an Indian doctor who gave him an injection.
“I had to carry him on my back to the court. He found the strength to play and we won.
“Then he collapsed. He had to go through the airport in a wheelchair,” said Wahjudi.
After their retirement, Tjun Tjun and Wahjudi became members of the Technical Commission of the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) from 1989 to 1993.
In 1986, they received the IBF Meritorious Service Award and were inducted into the BWF Hall of Fame in 2009.
The two greats have successful post-career endeavours in badminton and as businessmen.
Tjun Tjun founded PB Lotto, a badminton club, in East Jakarta with his sister, Liang Qiuxia.
Wahjudi coaches at the Hi-Qua Nikko Steel Badminton Club in his hometown, Malang.
Tjun Tjun’s life away from the court is another spectacular story.
His eventual wife, Manli, had a school assignment in 1972 to collect autographs from badminton players.
She got one from Tjun Tjun and eight years later they got married. They have four children.
Wahjudi, the owner of a shuttlecock factory named JW, married Evisianawati and they too have four children.
Clearly, the incredible feats of Tjun Tjun and Wahjudi were freeze-frame moments for the sport they are remarkably committed to.
Theirs is a study of determination that gripped the badminton world and what the sport demands.
To honour the medallists of the first World Championships, BWF has organised a reception on the final day of the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2019. Among the attendees are Flemming Delfs, Lene Koppen, Gillian Gilks, Nora Perry, Steen Skovgaard, Derek Talbot, Ray Stevens, Thomas Kihlstrom, Etsuko Toganoo, Emiko Ueno and Joanna Flockhart.