Chinese “Hurricane”19 December, 2017
On December 18, 1979...a week before Christmas, to be exact...a violent earthquake shook the island of Bali in Indonesia, leaving 25 people dead and thousands injured. Five days later, the myth of Indonesian Badminton invincibility was shattered by the force of a Chinese "hurricane" - in Hong Kong.
The Thomas Cup holders of a decade's standing were crushed 6-3 and their women, massacred 5-0!
Who were these "counterfeit champions"... these "pretenders to the throne"... as they were once labelled by their very same adversaries, who could inflict such a stunning blow on the mighty lords of the shuttle?
The writing was on the wall. After seven years following the end of the Cultural Revolution, China now stands on the threshold of yet another "Golden Age". That they were able to upstage the Indonesians by such a convincing margin with a predominantly young bunch of "interns", more than half of whom averaged 21 years, made it all the more exciting and intriguing.
The Chinese victory created quite a stir throughout Asia, if not the whole world, and the Press ran lead stories - some even on page one - with headlines screaming: "China beat Thomas Cup champions", "China shuttlers outplay Indonesians" and "Chinese show Indons their might".
Yet this was not the first time that the Chinese had beaten their arch rivals. In 1976, Beijing's Hou Chia-chang outclassed reigning All-England champion Liem Swie King to claim the Asian Badminton Confederation singles title in Hyderabad, India.
But the retirement of the Old Guard, such as Hou and Tang Hsien-hu, nicknamed "the Thing" because of his awesome courtcraft, led to China's subsequent slide - and submission to Indonesia in the Asian Games final in Bangkok two years ago. All that is history now.
Some critics, however, feel that Indonesia's defeat lay largely in the inadequacy of their team. Only two members - doubles partners Ade Chandra and Christian Hadinata - could be considered stalwarts in view of their near 10-year reign as Indonesia's No 2 pair, they claim.
lie Sumirat, who claimed the 1975 Asian Invitation singles title when he subdued China's Hou in three games, wasn't in the fray. Nor was the legendary Rudy Hartono, or even his successor, Liem.
Valid points, these. But what of this explosive teenage star, Lius Ponggoh, who stood in for Sumirat when Indonesia faced Japan in last year's Thomas Cup final rounds in Jakarta. He demolished Japan's No I, Kinji Zeniya, in three games in the second singles.
And what about the "boy wonder", Hastomo Arbi, whose meteoric rise has been nothing short of phenomenal. He won the South-East Asia Games singles gold medal, beating Thailand's national champion, Udom Luengpetcharaporn, in the final in Jakarta last September.
Both youngsters found their places in the Indonesian team primarily because of their splendid records. In fact, they defeated Hartono, Sumirat, the lot - except Liem who was given special exemption - in the SEA Games trials? Can they, then, still be considered Indonesia's second stringers?
The argument falls flat when we consider that China were also not at full strength. They played without their national champion, Yan Yujiang. And they must have measured up to only half the strength of the Indonesians in terms of experience. The Chinese team comprised Chen Tienlong, 20, Sun Zhian, 23, YaoXiming, 23, LuanJin, 21, Lin Shiquan, 23, He Lianping, 21, He Shangquan, 19, and Han Jian, 23.
Their credentials: Chen Tienlong: 1978 national champion and world invitation singles champion; Sun Zhian: 1979 national doubles champion; Yao Ximing: 1979 world championships doubles chamion; Luan Jin: 1979 world championships singles runner-up; Lin Shiquan:
1979 national singles and doubles runner-up; HeLianping: 1979 national doubles runner-up; He Shangquan: 1978 boys' singles champion of Asian Invitation Championships; Han Jian: 1979 national singles runner-up.
China's women: Liu Xia, 24: 1979 national champion; Fan Ming, 19: 1979 national No. 6; Zhang Ailing, 22: 1979 national runner-up; Li Fang: 1979 national No. 5; Han Aiping,18: 1979 national doubles runner-up; Lin Yuang, 16: 1979 national doubles No. 5; Sun
Youping: 18: 1979 national runner-up; Xu Rang, 21: 1978 World Invitation and national runner-up.
The Indonesians comprised LiusPonggoh, 19; Hastomo Arbi, 21; Kartono, 25; Rudy Heryanto, 25; Christian Hadinata, 27 and Ade Chandra, 29.
Credentials: Ponggoh: 1979 member of Thomas Cup team; Arbi: SEA Games singles champion; Heryanto: Played in 1978 Asian Games and 1979 SEA Games; Kartono: 1975 All-England participant and 1977 national doubles runner-up; Ade Chandra: 1972-73: All-England doubles champion, 1978 Asian Games doubles champion; Hadinata: 1972-73 All-England doubles champion, 1976 Asian Invitation doubles champion, 1978 Asian Games champion, 1979 member of Thomas Cup team.
The Indonesian women's credentials: Ivana Lie Ing Hoa, 19: 1978 member of Uber Cup team, 1979 SEA Games singles champion; Tjan So Gwan, 20: 1978 member of Uber Cup team, Asian Games team, 1979 played in SEA Games; Ruth Damayanthi, 21: 1979 SEA Games player; Theresia Widiastuty, 24: 1970, 74 Asian Games player, 1975,78 Uber Cup player, 1977 SEA Games doubles champion.
The Indonesians, however,will be given a chance to settle the score with the Chinese in a second showdown - arranged by the ABC - in Singapore on February 20 and 21.
And this time, both camps have pledged to field their top players, including Liem for Indonesia, and Yan for China.
China still look the better side on paper. But in a tropical isle like Singapore, where the heat and humidity can devour the mightiest of gladiators, the Chinese - who will then be struggling to acclimatise after a biting winter - may have to pay a heavy price.
-- By Far East Correspondent - World Badminton, March 1980