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05-07-2004, 03:35 PM #1
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NEWS : Olympic gold medalist Tony back home
Olympic gold medalist Tony back home
Eva C. Komandjaja, Jakarta Post
Indonesian badminton fans can expect Tony Gunawan, who now plays for the United States, to return home permanently sometime in the next two years.
But they shouldn't expect the 29-year-old to get back on court and play for the country that he won an Olympic gold medal for.
Interviewed by The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the U.S. team's training session here on Friday for the Thomas Cup, Tony said he was thinking of returning to Indonesia in the next two years.
"I'm thinking of coming back here in the next two years after I finish my studies in the U.S., but I don't think I will pursue my career as a badminton player here anymore," he said.
Tony went to the U.S. in 2001 to study, with playing badminton for the country a distant concern, if one at all. He is now studying computer engineering at DeVry University and living with his wife Etty Tantry, also a former Indonesian national player, in Southern California.
Tony still retains his Indonesia citizenship. Unlike the Olympics, the Thomas and Uber Cups do not require a player to hold the citizenship of the country he or she represents.
Tony won a string of tournaments under the Indonesian flag before deciding to move to the U.S. And he will always be remembered as one of the very few Indonesian sportsmen who have won an Olympic gold medal, a feat he achieved in the men's doubles with Candra Wijaya in 2000.
"I have a good feeling about coming back home. It's always great to be here again since this is my home," he said.
While he said he was still pondering what he would do when he returned permanently to Indonesia, Tony said that for the time being he was concentrating on playing badminton for the U.S.
Speaking about the state of badminton in the U.S., Tony said that unlike in Indonesia and other Asian countries, the sport was not popular there.
"You can't compare badminton with basketball or tennis in the U.S. Badminton is practically nothing there," said Tony, who also acts as the coach for the U.S. team.
Coming to Jakarta for the Thomas Cup with only five players, including himself, Tony said he was realistic about their chances. He said it was a difficult task finding shuttlers in the U.S. able to compete at the international level.
"All of our players are still relatively new and they're not professional players. You can't compare them with Indonesian players," he said.
Tony said most of the U.S. players had other full-time jobs or were students, unlike Indonesian national players whose only job was to play badminton.
He said that playing in a competition against the likes of Indonesia and China, the cup was definitely out of reach for the U.S.
"We don't have a specific target for this competition, we're just learning from all of the experienced players here. We have nothing to lose.
"We hope that in the future badminton can be big in the U.S., and by that time, the sport will be very popular in the world," he said.
Tony first rose to prominence as a player with Indonesia in 1997, when he won the Copenhagen Masters with Candra. A year later, he took the Malaysia Open with new partner Halim Haryanto.
In 1998, Candra and Tony were reunited at the All England and were the only Indonesian shuttlers to bring home a title from that prestigious tournament.
The pair continued their winning ways at the Asian Championship in 1999 and in Japan the same year when they again proved themselves to be the best pair in Asia by winning the only title for Indonesia. They took the ultimate prize, the Olympic gold before Tony again teamed up with Halim in 2001 to win the World Badminton Championship in Seville, Spain.
05-07-2004, 09:19 PM #2
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Interesting, I'm wondering what his plans are? And, why only staying for the next 2 years? I thought he's awaiting his US green card and wanted to stay in the US for good?
05-09-2004, 03:52 AM #3
Originally Posted by SteveStanley
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I think its a waste of his talents for him to hang his racket at the peak of his career...Its obvious he still likes to play badminton...he could have pursue his studies after his retirement....
If he had not went to the states, Im sure he will be going to Athens this year...with poor Halim...
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