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08-16-2011, 11:17 PM #1
The Last Komodo Dragon - a Tribute in 3 partsThe Last Komodo Dragon – a Tribute in 3 parts.
When I was growing up through my teens, I was captivated by the stories of badminton players like Rudy Hartono. He was just a name, but even then, in an age without computers, the Internet, and just very basic television, it seemed his name was whispered from mouth to mouth, flying across cities, countries, and then continents. Rudy Hartono. The invincible emperor of badminton. All that we got to see were infrequent pictures in the papers (mostly the Sunday papers with their special features in colour), and if we were very, very lucky, a brief 10-second glimpse on television – black-and-white. There was a grace, and yet lethal element to his play that seemed just so deceptively easy!
Of course, I soon learnt that there were others. Like the Danes. I couldn’t believe that an European country could play badminton as compulsively as the Indonesians. But I soon learnt to respect their style, dedication and competence. Hartono was not alone any more.
And then, there were always whispers about the Chinese. The Red Army was coming! What would it mean for badminton? We were told the Chinese were even more talented and powerful than Hartono! Could it be? I was awed by the number of champions that suddenly emerged from that country. Their mastery over the rectangular battleground was truly awesome. Their technique was mind-boggling. Their conditioning was supreme. But secretly I still longed for…
Liem Swie King! Now we’re talking! The party has re-started! The excitement is rolling again! Hartono and King: Immovable object and irresistible force, working together! And over the next decade they were joined by other men and women from that chain of beautiful islands in a flamboyant demonstration of joy, power, dominance and insane talent. What was it about the Indonesian players that got your blood racing? I witnessed a parade of names, legends take the stage, dominate it, and leave millions happier in the end. Why did the players of other nations not evoke the same mad laughter or excitement from us? Why why why?
There is something in the art of the players of the islands of Garuda that evokes an ancient rhythm of the seas, the wind, the earth. It is primal; yet it speaks of an art, of sublime mastery of the way the body moves, how it responds to the moment in battle. We watch with the delicious anticipation of the unexpected. And yet, when violence is committed, it is with a silken, utterly graceful undertone, and leaves us grateful for the violence!
These warriors spent millions of years doing battle on the sands of their islands; a rubber mat must give them wings to glide gracefully on. And they took their time to get into their stride, to bring out those lightning-quick reflexes when the sun had warmed their backs. Yes, they had Time. And once their blood was warmed, mayhem followed inevitably; beautiful, impossibly beautiful mayhem. Just a scent of weakness from the prey come within striking range, and they pounce with lightning speed and immense power; it is over! These were the masters; silent predators of the islands.
Tomorrow: Part 2
08-17-2011, 12:18 AM #2
cobalt is now an official Badminton Central columnist who will be contributing regular articles here in BC to share with other fans.
thank you cobalt.
08-17-2011, 12:50 PM #3
08-17-2011, 09:24 PM #4
08-18-2011, 10:01 PM #5
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