The TOTAL BWF World Championships 2019 in Basel, Switzerland, were special for many reasons.
No moment was as treasured as the celebrations for the 25th Edition of the Badminton World Championships that took place last Sunday.
To mark the occasion, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) invited medallists from the inaugural championships in Malmo, Sweden, in 1977 to attend a reception at St. Jakobshalle.
For the legends of ’77, it was a chance to reminisce about their achievements and catch up with friends of the past.
“To get everyone together like this has been absolutely phenomenal. There are no other places that have managed to gather together original competitors from that far back,” said Gillian Gilks (now Goodwin), who won silver in women’s singles and mixed doubles.
“It was 42 years ago but we still remember the match and winning. We remember it well, and it’s just unbelievable to be here,” added Etsuko Toganoo, inaugural women’s doubles gold medallist with Emiko Ueno.
BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer addressed the gathering and said it was an honour to welcome the 12 medallists from the very first World Championships to Basel.
“For the BWF, it is very important that we celebrate our heroes and remember the achievements of the past,” Høyer said.
“It is where we create a lasting legacy for badminton.
“And as a former player myself, I truly know how special it is to reach the pinnacle of the sport.
“I sincerely thank all our legends from 1977 for being part of this special moment.”
Among the attendees was BWF Council Member Nora Perry MBE, who won bronze in both women’s doubles and mixed doubles.
“Today celebrates our history in the game and I think we mustn’t forget those players that contributed and did big things in the sport of badminton in the early years.
“I think the BWF has done so many great things to enhance the sport, to enhance the player, to enhance our whole IOC involvement, and to make sure we are not left behind,” she said.
One thing many of the legends noted when watching the current crop of badminton stars in action was the phenomenal speed of play.
“It has developed greatly. The speed nowadays is fantastic,” said Dane Flemming Delfs, winner of the very first men’s singles title.
“I don’t know if we would be able to manage the first round now with such amazing speed.”
Toganoo added: “It is so much bigger now as compared to when we played, and we’re really happy to see it become so popular.”
25th Edition Celebration – Legends of ‘77
Flemming Delfs (DEN) – Men’s Singles, Gold
Etsuko Toganoo (JPN) – Women’s Doubles, Gold
Emiko Ueno (JPN) – Women’s Doubles, Gold
Steen Skovgaard (DEN) – Mixed Doubles, Gold
Gillian Gilks MBE (ENG) – Women Singles, Silver & Mixed Doubles, Silver
Marjan Ridder (NED) – Women’s Doubles, Silver
Joke van Beusekom (NED) – Women’s Doubles, Silver
Derek Talbot (ENG) – Mixed Doubles, Silver
Ray Stevens MBE (ENG) – Men’s Doubles, Bronze
Thomas Kihlström (SWE) – Men’s Singles, Bronze & Men’s Doubles, Bronze
Nora Perry MBE (ENG) – Women’s Doubles, Bronze & Mixed Double, Bronze
Joanne Flockhart (SCO) – Mixed Doubles, Bronze