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09-11-2007, 06:26 AM #1
Tang Xianhu - The Thing (Is He The Greatest Ever?)
I was wondering if someone would volunteer to consolidate whatever material we have on The Thing - Tang Xianhu.
It's a shame that many of us don't really know the man who was perhaps the greatest badminton player of the last century.
Here's a 15-minute television profile of Tang Xianhu produced quite recently.
You can watch it in two parts here:
or as a continuous piece here:
The programme features him at training and at home... and it also has a short clip from his heyday!
You can also see the Newsweek cover (from 2001) and his medicine table. (And, yes, he has his cap firmly on all the time! )
I wish someone would translate the narration and the interviews into English.
(I don't know what language the programme is in... but the onscreen script suggests Chinese, Korean or Japanese.)
It would be great to know what they're saying about him and, more importantly, what he's saying.
For those who still don't know anything about 'The Thing':
Although Chinese, Tang Xianhu was born in Indonesia on 13 March 1942 (yes, on Friday the 13th) .
He grew up in Jakarta speaking Bahasa Indonesia... and, to this day, he is not fluent in either Cantonese or Mandarin.
In the late 1950s, Tang was the leading Indonesian junior and was originally called Thing Hian Houw (which is how he got the nickname 'The Thing').
He represented Indonesia in the Malayan Open Championships before a forced ouster programme in Indonesia made him migrate to China.
From 1961 to 1979, Tang Xianhu (representing China) was active in competitive badminton and went on to absolutely dominate the sport.
The unfortunate part was that China's political compulsions kept him away from Europe, which was quite a good thing for European players.
It's also reported that Erland Kops, Europe's finest player, was steamrolled (15-0, 15-0 ) by Tang Xianhu when they met for an exhibition series.
Well, so much for Kops' legendary victories at All England!
Tang Xian Hu was literally unbeatable.
Only two players were anywhere in his league - they were his team-mate Hou Jia Chang (who was quite familiar with Tang's play) and the mercurial Indonesian shuttler Iie Sumirat (possibly the most unreadable badminton player ever).
Rudy Hartono never played Tang, but it is ardently argued by old-timers that Hartono wouldn't have stood a chance against him. (Well, I know this is gonna raise a few hackles somewhere )
After retiring from competition, Tang took up advanced coaching, first in 1982 as China's National Coach.
In 1987, he began coaching the Indonesian National Team and stayed put until 1998 when he returned to China.
He was then attached to the Fujian Provincial Badminton Team and was later appointed Head Coach, first for men's singles and later for men's doubles.
At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Tang had the dubious pleasure of watching his pupils from China and Indonesia slug it out. Xia Xuanze lost to Hendrawan who then lost to Ji Xinpeng.
Tang's biggest mission began in 2002, when he took over as Head Coach for China's Men's Doubles of the Chinese National Team (men's doubles)
The 'mental toughness training', which has repeatedly allowed China to fight back even from the brink, is Tang Xian Hu's contribution.
(One recent example: the MD match at the Singapore Open 2007 where China's Cai Yun & Fu Haifeng kept their cool to snatch an amazing victory from Malaysia's Tan Fook Chong & Wan Wah Lee who were frozen on Match Point.)
(One older example: the 2000 Olympics where an unfancied Ji Xinpeng clawed his way to the gold with Tang's combination prescription of 'aggression and flexible tactics'.)
In fact, 'The Thing' has coached so many top players that the upper tier of the Indonesian and Chinese teams since 1987 owes much to Tang Xianhu.
Principal Competitive Achievements:
Singles Champion - 1963 Games of New Emerging Forces
Singles Champion - 1966 Asian Games of New Emerging Forces
Singles & Team Champion - 1965 to 1975 National Games, China
Mixed Doubles Champion - 1978 Asian Games
Principal Coaching Achievements:
2000 Olympic Games - Men's Singles Gold (Ji Xinpeng)
2004 Thomas Cup - China - Champions
The Kason TSF 86Ti, used by China's U-19 national team, was reportedly designed by Tang Xianhu.
Apparently, he wanted a racquet with a range of properties that he specified, including a stiff shaft.
The shaft design (graphite enhanced with titanium) was tailored for short, hard-hitting players.
(Well, only Sir Panda would be able to explain whether this is true )
Finally, here's a very short clip of Tang Xianhu in action - an overhead smash very similar to Lin Dan's favourite shot.
I believe modious is the one who uploaded this.
These posts are great reading for those who want to know more:
see post #1 and post #10 - Tang Xianhu with a certain Cheung and a certain Kwun (perhaps, the high-points of cheung's and kwun's careers and the low-points of Tang's career ).
Some guys have all the luck
see post # 25 - it's a great translation by Cheongsa
information on some of his pupils
tang's training method - great translation by kwun
koboduck's posts make for amazing reading - they transport you a long way back
Much of his story is available in different parts of the forum (search and consolidate, please).
09-11-2007, 06:29 AM #2
Here's a straight-on recent pic of the great master Tang Xianhu (The Thing)
09-11-2007, 06:34 AM #3
The Thing In India
This is a rare photograph of The Thing and his illustrious compatriot Hou Jia Chang in their heyday.
This picture was taken in October 1976 in Hyderabad, India during the Asian Badminton Confederation championships.
Tang & Hou are with Singaporean National Players Tan Eng Han, Chin Soon Chye and Tan Khee Wee.
L to R: Tan Eng Han (Singapore), Tang Xianhu (China), Chin Soon Chye (Singapore), Hou Jia Chang (China) and Tan Khee Wee (Singapore).
09-11-2007, 07:54 AM #4
Thanks Oldhand for rounding up the various BC posts and other sources on "the Thing" to present a more coordinated reference to the great master for those who wish to know more about him.
Surprisingly, Tang is very short by present-day standards but yet no taller opponents had come close to his standards during his time.
09-11-2007, 08:00 AM #5
Tang Xianhu is a great ambassador of Badminton
Thank you for starting this thread.
I was lucky enough to meet Tang Xianhu when he came to Australia to help us to promote Badminton Coaching for Australians.
While he was here, he played a friendly Singles match with our Australian #1 player.
He was just awesome... (if I remember correctly) he beat our Australian Champion under 5 easily.
I still have some of the books that he has given me.
I pay my respect to Tang Xianhu... He is such a great ambassador of Badminton.
09-11-2007, 10:20 AM #6
09-11-2007, 11:46 AM #7
great person, he is..
09-11-2007, 12:37 PM #8
09-11-2007, 12:54 PM #9
09-11-2007, 01:07 PM #10
I'm hardly surprised.
From what I 'Oldhand' have been told by 'Olderhands' , Tang would begin play by firmly believing that he couldn't be beaten. By his own admission, although he was fast, strong and skilled, he had not yet achieved mastery in either game skills, speed or strength... but what was important to him was that he had achieved mastery over himself. Then, it was just a matter of combining his determination and his skills to overcome the opponent. (I believe Peter Rasmussen too set store by a similar philosophy.)
Were these Chinese books?
I'd say Tang's greatest asset was his mind.
09-11-2007, 01:21 PM #11
The influence of Tang Xianhu on Badminton in China
You have answered Superstar's question correctly.
Our Australian Champion, at that time, was not a weak player either, having travelled and played in various countries, trained with the English National Team, and was the winner of the Irish Open then.
It was believed that Tang Xianhu's influence was one of the reasons why/how China has become a leading nation in Badminton. The exodus of many top Indonesian Chinese players returning to China in the late 1960's brought great benefit to China.
09-11-2007, 01:39 PM #12
he ever wanted to be an indonesian but ina gov. never responsed it and after 1998 tragedy he flew back to china... he ever coached young TH
09-11-2007, 01:54 PM #13
Is Tang Xian Hu actually Tong Sin Fu, spelled in another chinese dialect?
09-11-2007, 02:00 PM #14
09-11-2007, 02:02 PM #15
09-11-2007, 11:51 PM #16
well, one thing that I know. INA owe him a lot since he produced a lot of great MS player start from 1990's era until Hendrawan era :d. So he's a really great coach
09-12-2007, 11:37 AM #17
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