Badminton has a bigger following in the UK than many may realise. It may not rival the dedication that China and Indonesia have for the sport, but there are still thousands of Brits who love nothing more than watching the excitement of a shuttlecock flying around the court. Badminton is a game of speed, agility, accurate foot work and killer attacks. In honour of the National Badminton League this June, we’ve taken a look at our top seven badminton players of all time. These are players you can truly aspire to as you stand there in your new custom badminton teamwear.
This Chinese athlete is legendary in the world of badminton and is regarded as the greatest singles player of all time by badminton enthusiasts across the world. He is the first and only player to complete the “Super Grand Slam” by the age of 28, including all nine major titles in international badminton. Lin Dan is famous for his aggressive nature on court and despite having won all of the major titles, he is still entirely focused on winning. He is also the only player in the history of the sport to win the Olympic gold medal twice consecutively. His achievements in badminton are certainly impressive and it seems his reign as the badminton king is only set to continue.
Lee Chong Wei
This Malaysian player is the only person who has held the number one ranking for more than a year. He received a number one ranking in 2009 and continued to stay there for an impressive 199 consecutive weeks. Lee Chong Wei has been admired for his calmness on court and his ability to fight player peer pressure. With incredible humility off-court, this player is admired by many. With a list of achievements long enough to rival even Lin Dan, Lee Chong Wei was named Olympian of the year twice in 2008 and 2012. He’s even a bestselling author in Asia, with his autobiography “Dare to Be a Winner”.
Former Indonesian player, Rudy Hartono, is considered one of the finest badminton players that the world has ever seen. Dominating badminton from the late sixties to the early seventies, Hartono won the prestigious All-England Championship’s men’s singles events eight times, including a record seven consecutive wins from 1968 to 1974. He achieved four gold medals and two silver medals at the Thomas Cup and won the men’s singles title in 1972 at the Munich Summer Olympics, the first year that badminton was included as part of the Olympic programme. His legacy in the badminton world lives on and he is considered to be one of the best sportsmen that the world has seen.
The now retired Indonesian player, Taufik Hidayat, won the Indonesian Open a record six times over the span of his career. In total, Hidayat achieved 27 titles and was positioned runner-up 19 times. Though he’s especially famous for his rivalry against Lin Dan, he holds the record of fastest smash recorded in a singles competition. His 305 kph (189.5 mph) smash in a match against Ng Wei in 2006 received international acclaim and is yet to be beaten. The overwhelming power in both his backhand and forehand made him one of the most difficult players to face on open court.
Morten Frost Hansen
This Danish player was also known as ‘Mr. Badminton’ during his 12 year stint in the top 3 world rankings. In England, Hansen dominated all of the Open Badminton Championships. He is especially noted for his smooth and fluid footwork. Remaining undefeated for months at a time, he won almost every international top level championship except the World Badminton Championships. He was defeated in the last world championship of his career, leading to the unfortunate headlines reading: ‘The World’s Greatest Player May Never Be World Champion’.
The now retired Li Lingwei was a dominant force in female badminton in the 1980s. She has been considered by many as one of the greatest players in the history of women’s badminton. She is particularly noted due to her court coverage and net play. Winning two gold medals in the women’s singles even and one in the women’s doubles event at the World Championship, Lingwei and her partner Han dominated badminton in the 1980s. Lingwei is now an elected member of the International Olympic Committee and has been inducted in the Badminton Hall of Fame.
Peter Høeg Gade
Another Danish player that broke records was Peter Høeg Gade. Gade was the number one seed from 1998-2001. He was a favourite amongst fans due to his fast attacks, smooth footwork and his trademark shot, the ‘Double Action’. With an incredible ability to handle on-court pressure, Gade won the European Championships titles five times and also won three gold medals in the European Team Championships. He retired from a professional badminton career in 2012, achieving bronze medals in the Wuhan Thomas and Uber Cup.