Great article on Tony Gunawan

Discussion in 'World Championships 2005' started by Adel, Aug 24, 2005.

  1. Adel

    Adel Regular Member

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    I'm not sure if this article has been posted (Mods, please feel free to slash and burn at your discretion) or if all the information given about Tony Gunawan still stands... but I found it while running a Google search and it is awesome!

    Badminton legend makes no racket over his retirement

    By MARCIA C. SMITH
    The Orange County Register

    ANAHEIM, Calif. - Tony Gunawan will soon retire from badminton the way he played it - with grace, humility, and as an Olympic medalist and international champion.

    He will depart as 14-time Grand Slam singles champion Pete Sampras did in tennis, leaving a sport the way the truest of legends do.

    Quietly.

    But Americans, who lovingly embraced the shy Sampras when he shelved his racket to stay home with his wife and new baby, probably won't have equal strokes for the Indonesian-born Gunawan in what is likely his farewell, elite-level event, the International Badminton Federation World Championships, taking place this week at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim.

    Most residents would probably not recognize Gunawan if he carried a Yonex racket and a shuttlecock, slung the 2000 Olympic gold medal around his neck and walked down the streets of his adopted hometown of Fullerton, Calif.

    Had he prized the celebrity and the prolonged goodbyes, Gunawan could have stayed in Indonesia, where he is mobbed at malls and grocery stores, all because he won his country a 2000 Olympic men's doubles gold medal with Candra Wijaya in a sport they value as much as Americans do the NFL.

    "He is a god," said U.S. singles player and Villa Park assistant coach Raju Rai, 22. "When I heard he was coming here, I was shocked. Everyone in badminton knows Tony, but once you get outside (of the Orange County Badminton Club), he's just another badminton player in America."

    Badminton, the second-most popular sport in the world behind soccer, has only niche following in the United States. It's a club sport by NCAA standards and garners just 4.7 million U.S. participants, according to a 2003 survey by the National Sporting Goods Association. (The same survey showed 4.9 million did pilates.)

    A badminton star in United States has less popularity than Lance Armstrong in outer space, and Gunawan knew that in 2001, when he and fiancee Eti Tantra - his Indonesian national teammate since age 10 - decided to move.

    "I came here because I wanted more from the rest of my life than badminton," said Gunawan.

    "I was looking at turning 30 and I had spent 25 years playing the sport. Eti had a brother here and wanted to come to America. I wanted to get married, have a family, grow the sport and improve the rest of my life."

    Tony and Eti Gunawan married at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino wedding chapel in Las Vegas in 2002. "No Elvises," he said.

    They moved into a one-bedroom apartment in Fullerton and joined the Orange County Badminton Club, where Tony trains and both coach.
    Club founder Don Chew introduced the Gunawans to members who happily prepared meals and offered them advice. Fellow coach Ignatius Rusli gave them a refrigerator.

    Eti Gunawan began working as a financial services professional at a local office of New York Life. Tony Gunawan, who had trained full-time from 1993 to 2001, went back to school, first to learn English at Santa Ana College, then to study computer engineering at DeVry University and Westwood College.

    "That was scary for me," he said. "I hadn't gone to school in more than 10 years, and here I was struggling to open a book and focus on something as complicated as computers. I needed challenges like badminton gave me."

    His wife would come home at night to find he had disassembled a broken printer, taken apart their computer, rebuilt the entire system or devoted three hours and several chafed fingertips to playing the adventure game "God of War" on the Sony PlayStation 2.

    "He's so cute, and he's my best friend, so it's a little strange watching him make the adjustment to a different life," said Eti Gunawan, 29.

    Their first date was in a mall restaurant in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1999. She had never seen Tony so nervous - eyes darting, forehead beading with sweat.

    "Are you all right?" she asked. He had forgotten his wallet and didn't know how to excuse himself to sprint back to the car to retrieve it.

    "Away from badminton, Tony is like a little boy," she said. "Everything is new."

    Growing up in Surabaya, Indonesia's second largest city, his father, Budyanto, began teaching 5-year-old Tony and his older brother, Ferry, badminton fundamentals.

    Tony Gunawan toiled through hours of footwork drills, stepping between right and left circles his father had drawn in chalk on the court. He worked on form, hitting a goosefeather shuttlecock suspended from the ceiling by a string.

    For conditioning, he ran three times a week through the small East Java town of Tretes, on roads climbing the slopes of Mount Welirang. For strength, he put another badminton player on his back and climbed stairs.

    Once a week, he joined a half-dozen friends to push his father's van for 100-meter stretches along the level pavement.

    When Gunawan was 12, the Indonesia national team asked him to leave his family to train full-time in Jakarta. He reluctantly left and sparred daily with national champions. He went on to win gold with Wijaya at the prestigious Taiwan Open, Japan Open, Indonesia Open and the Sydney Olympics.

    While Wijaya remains in Indonesia training for the 2008 Olympics, Gunawan pairs with Howard Bach, who lost in the second round with now-retired men's doubles partner Kevin Han in Athens last summer.

    "It's such an honor to meet you and get a chance to play with you," Bach told Gunawan in 2002 at the Orange County Badminton Club.

    Gunawan bashfully smiled and said, "I'm also honored to play with you."

    They trained five days a week on these courts, with Bach, 26, playing backcourt and learning from the forecourt master's touches, taps, drives, drops and finesse shots.

    "Tony has no bones; he's all cartilage, the way he can twist and get everything around him," Bach said. "He's so consistent in his play, much like his emotions. He's the most humble guy I've ever met."

    In practice, the world's No.13 doubles team played 2-on-3 for the challenge.
    Just after Bach unloaded yet another ferocious smash, Gunawan bobbed and bent into position near the net. Holding the racket as delicately as a wand in conductor's hand, Gunawan swiftly stepped to the net, extended his arm and let the birdie brush off his racket's head and dive to the floor to end the rally.

    Quietly.

    Just the way he will retire.
     
  2. DinkAlot

    DinkAlot dcbadminton
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    Nice, informative article. Thanks!

    I hope Tony does not retire. *crosses fingers*
     
  3. kwun

    kwun Administrator

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    very nice article!

    it is especially special as it came from a US media.
     
  4. scchang

    scchang Regular Member

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    Tony Gunawan

    Some time in our life, we always have to make a choice since there will be so many more things to face. As a badminton athlete, the lifetime on the international competition court is relatively short. If our legendary Tony Gunawan chose to retire, we should bless him, wish him and his wife, Eti, best luck, and thank him for all those great matches he has brought us.

    I am grateful to witness his great play again in this world championship. I am preveliged to be able to introduce myself to him and able to chat with him sometime when he is not in the training session or competiton. Tony Gunawan has set a great role model for athletes: a fighter while holding a racket and a gentleman off the court.

    -S.C.Chang

     
    #4 scchang, Aug 24, 2005
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2005
  5. sen

    sen Regular Member

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    Candra Wijaya has said he will win WC in 2006 so he will not retire.

    Sad to hear if Tony will not defend the title.

    He is known as very self-disciplined like Candra. That's why they both can have that stamina.
     
  6. chibe_K

    chibe_K Regular Member

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    Great article, Tony deserves every bit of fame as a result of the victory in WC2005. This guy works hard all his life, and has the determination to pursue his goals. I should have done the same thing when I was 5 years old, but too bad, my dad plays music instruments during pasttimes. :rolleyes:
     
  7. nkiattin

    nkiattin Regular Member

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    That's really nice. Tony is one of the best double players along with Candra and Sigit in my opinion. It was a privilege for me also to be able to watch him play. The way he conducts himself inside and outside the court is really admirable. He is a good role model for other payers. During the post game interview he answered humbly and that made me admire him even more. I'm hoping that he will keep playing for at least until 08.
     
  8. wiyang

    wiyang Regular Member

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    nice article.
    nice player.

    tony is really great.
     
  9. Adel

    Adel Regular Member

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    The American Dream.

    Like someone mentioned on another thread, this reads like the classic "American Dream". The impact of Tony Gunawan's win sunk it fully on me just this morning when after close to 12 hours of non-sleep, I suddenly realized we had left for the States at around the same time.

    Yes, I can still recall the devastated college freshman who found out on BC that her idol had "retired" from the sport. I wrote home to friends and family, calling it the disaster of the 21st century.

    Fast forward to 2005, her idol is a World Champion yet again. As for the college freshman... :D
     
  10. MikeJ

    MikeJ Regular Member

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    Tony Gunawan (and now Halim Hariyanto [sp?]) are like evangelists spreading the good news of badminton in the US. :D I'm really happy that they were warmly accepted by the americans.

    Contrary to what some would like to project, after a lifetime of excellence in the field of badminton, Tony Gunawan has nothing left to prove. :D

    I hope and pray that the younger athletes will follow is example. :D

    God bless him always! :) :)
     
    #10 MikeJ, Aug 28, 2005
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2005
  11. SmashingBird

    SmashingBird Regular Member

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    There isn't WC in 2006
     
  12. Joseph

    Joseph Regular Member

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  13. Double_Player

    Double_Player Regular Member

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    In canada we have some Indonesian coaching at Lee's badminton in Toronto. In Kingston just me, bumming at the local club...:D anyway, I'm surprise that he moved to USA. Good for him, better future over there rather than in Indonesia. Well, anyway, Indonesia will produce the next champion; we got a lot of stock back home... just need a little bit of polishing
     
  14. kontrabando

    kontrabando Regular Member

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    I think there is....I read in an article that WC is now an annual thing

     
  15. seven

    seven New Member

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    Yes there is, it will be held in Madrid (Spain).
     

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