Three-time Asian champion Taufik Hidayat, the first man to win the Olympic and World Championship titles in successive years in 2004 and 2005, says he is excited at returning to India for the Badminton Asia Championship beginning at the spanking new Siri Fort Badminton Stadium in Delhi on April 12.
The top-seeded Indonesian, 28, says he has found the crowd to be great each time he has been in India – Delhi, Jaipur and Hyderabad. “From what I’ve seen during tournaments and traveling around the cities, the crowds have been really exciting and supportive; they have such a passion for the game and for life in general, that I find it very refreshing to see,” he says.
The Indonesian admits that he has not actually won a single Super Series tournament but indicated that the hunger is very much there. “Ever since the tournaments became Super Series event, I have actually never won one. Despite having lots of opportunities, I never seemed to get through though. Perhaps that is one of the factors that has kept me going. To go for the unknown. Despite having already achieved and won everything a player could ever hope for; the thirst and hunger to achieve more and for the yet to be accomplished is still there,” he says.
Asked if his famed rivalry with China’s three time world champion Lin Dan was badminton’s equivalent of Federer-Nadal rivalry in tennis, Taufik tends to call it media hype. “Of course, there always is a rivalry between us but we have with other players, too,” he says. “I have the same competition streak with other players, and I am sure Lin Dan feels the same way. It is more of an appreciation of one other’s talent and enjoying the kind of great competition on court that we would be able to give to one other.”
Taufik says he only has ‘random pictures’ in his mind about his Asian Championship conquests in Jakarta (2000), Kuala Lumpur (2004) and Johor Baharu (2007). “It’s all been filled with random pictures in my mind on what happened during those times. I can’t quite remember what went on afterwards, just remember feeling ecstatic and having an overwhelming sense of relief. I was extremely happy though, for each of the winning moment,” he says.
Asked how he would like to be remembered as a player and as a human, Taufik says these were the hardest questions to answer. “I am still playing, and haven’t really thought that far ahead on what legacy I want to be known for as a player,” he says. “I guess I’ll let people judge me the way they want to, to learn from my achievements and mistakes, on and off the court.”
“Each person who has come in contact with me will have different perspectives,” he says. “Perhaps I would like to be known for what I have worked hard at and achieved, that I have and continue to try on doing the right thing, in life, for my family and in my career as a badminton player.”
The Indonesian says he has just got back from a long trip to play the All England and Swiss Open events and is getting back to the rhythm of everyday training. “It has been going very well and I am looking forward to Delhi,” he says.