The World Championships in 2019 might seem far removed from its inaugural edition in Malmo 1977, but doubles legend Christian Hadinata was looking at a connection for two pairs that are four decades apart.
Hadinata experienced first hand the dazzling brilliance of compatriots Tjun Tjun and Johan Wahjudi, who beat him and Ade Chandra to the doubles gold at the inaugural World Championships in 1977. Reflecting during the Indonesia Open last month on another talented Indonesian pair, Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, Hadinata thought the ‘Minions’ could use some lessons from the way the 1977 champions played.
This was of course said just over a month ago, and just before the Minions won both the Indonesia Open and the Japan Open. With the Minions having crashed out of the World Championships yesterday, Hadinata’s rumination might appear prescient, but it might just have been the Minions having a particularly bad day.
“Johan and Tjun Tjun were prototypes of the men’s doubles players of today. The rotation as very good. Men’s doubles players of this era play like them. With me and Ade (Chandra), I used to play at the front and Ade was at the back; it was conventional doubles. Johan and Tjun Tjun were the first pair to play rotation (effectively). They won six All England titles playing like that.”
That is a lesson he hopes the Minions will incorporate into their game. For the most part, Sukamuljo has tended to be at the front – which he patrols exceptionally well with his outrageous talent – and Gideon at the back, but Hadinata believes they will have to share duties and mix things up, to prevent opponents getting used to their style.
“I think their opponents are strategising and are getting better at anticipating, so they need to change,” Hadinata says. “I think they must play like Johan and Tjun Tjun, get the rotation better, and not just Marcus at the back and Kevin at front. Kevin must get back from time to time.”
Gideon and Sukamuljo, who in fact have been seen lately exchanging their favoured positions, are yet to win a medal at the World Championships despite dominating the circuit for the better part of the last three years.
Hadinata’s own career was studded with numerous achievements, most notably his double at the World Championships at home in 1980.
Yet, Hadinata had originally decided to skip the 1980 edition after his heavily pregnant wife suffered an accident a week before the championships.
“It was a very difficult time because my wife, who was nine months pregnant, suffered an accident and had a fracture in one leg. That was one week before the World Championships. It was very complicated for me. I told my boss (PBSI President Dick Sudirman) that I could not play.”
Sudirman, one of the founders of PBSI and a respected administrator, assured Hadinata of all support.
“He told me I must play; he would take care of my wife and family. He kept his car and driver on standby at my house so I could go to the hospital at any time.”
The World Championships turned out into an Indonesian show as the hosts won four of five titles, with Hadinata coming away with two gold medals.
“I won two titles. My boys were born a week after the World Championships. It was incredible.
“I was very proud of my two titles. In 1979 I was mixed doubles champion at the All England and in 1980 I was world champion, so I had both of the world’s biggest titles.”
Indonesia have never replicated their four-title success of 1980. After conceding ground to China in the 1980s, they fought their way back to dominance in the next decade. In 1993 they had three gold medals, a haul that they have since struggled to match. They will hope the 2019 edition will give them cause for cheer.
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.