The Sudirman Cup11 April, 2016
The biennial Sudirman Cup or World Mixed Team Championships is the youngest of the team championships being hosted for the first time in 1989.
The youngest of the BWF’s world team championship events is the Sudirman Cup, also known as the World Mixed Team Championships. The event consists of team ties which comprise one match for each of badminton’s five disciplines: men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles.
First played in 1989, the Sudirman Cup was the only team championship to begin - and spend its entire first quarter century - as a biennial event. It is held in odd-numbered years, and thus does not coincide with the Thomas and Uber Cups, which had become biennial, and held in even-numbered years, prior to the establishment of the mixed team event.The Sudirman Cup and its trophy get their name from Dick Sudirman, a founding president of the Indonesian Badminton Federation (PBSI) who was vice-president of the then International Badminton Federation (IBF) and Asian Badminton Confederation (ABC) when he passed away on 10 June 1986.
Shortly after Sudirman’s passing, his friend and former IBF Council member Suharso Suhandinata wrote to IBF President Arthur Jones to propose the event with a cup named to commemorate Dick Sudirman’s contribution to the sport, in particular for his part in resolving the rift between the IBF and rival World Badminton Federation in 1981.
The proposal was brought before the IBF Council later in 1986 and by 1988 the plans were in place for this new world team championship competition. The Sudirman Cup was presented as a gift from the Indonesian people to international badminton and the inaugural event was staged in conjunction with the IBF World Championships in Jakarta in 1989.
Twenty-eight teams competed for the Sudirman Cup in its first edition - which was won by host Indonesia - and by 1997, the number of participating member associations had more than doubled.
Putting the mixed into the team event mix
The idea of a mixed team event was not new at the time. The Commonwealth Games, for example, had already adopted the idea of five-discipline team ties for their badminton team competition over a decade earlier.
The five disciplines of the sport had existed since the start of organized badminton tournaments, with the first All England Championships in 1899 featuring all three doubles events and only adding singles in its second edition. Still, it was more than forty years after the first Thomas Cup competition that mixed doubles finally became a part of a major world badminton team championship.
The Sudirman Cup finds its niche
The event continued to be held in odd-numbered years, coinciding with the individual IBF World Championships. The first seven editions of the Sudirman Cup were held in a two-week tournament by the same host as the World Championships. That ended in 2003, when the Sudirman Cup was hosted as a separate event, in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, while the IBF World Championships were originally scheduled for the regular May time slot, in Birmingham, England.
As an event separate from the World Championships, the 2003 Sudirman Cup was held in March of that year, but from 2005, with the Worlds having moved permanently in the badminton calendar to become an event mostly hosted in August, the Sudirman Cup moved back to become a permanent fixture of every other May.
The format - regulations
Unlike the Thomas and Uber Cups, the Sudirman Cup did not involve qualifying tournaments. Instead, the competition was organized into seven tiers or ‘Groups’, with the bottom team in each group fighting to avoid relegation while the top teams vied for promotion to the next tier. Hence, Japan finished on top of Group 2 in 1989 and was promoted to Group 1 for the 1991 edition, in place of England, which lost the relegation tie and began the 1991 edition in Group 2.
After the 2009 edition, the top tier, Group 1, was increased from 8 to 12 teams and the relegation/promotion system was scrapped in favour of using the new world team ranking system to determine which teams would go in which tier.
Indonesia won the first Sudirman Cup at home and was not able to win it back again, despite six more appearances in the final. Korea took over upon winning in 1991 and they successfully defended it two years later, both times relying on their three doubles pairs to deliver the points for their win in the final tie.
China’s dynasty began with the next edition. Between 1995 and 2013, China won an incredible nine Sudirman Cup titles in ten attempts. The only interruption during this period was in Eindhoven in 2003, when Korea won back the Sudirman Cup, with Lee Hyun Il taking Korea’s first ever singles point in a Sudirman Cup final. China bounced back from the 2003 defeat and took the next five titles in a row without dropping one match in any of the next five finals.
Sudirman Cup Results
|Year||Host City||Number of Teams||Sudirman Cup Winners||Runners-up|
|2013||Kuala Lumpur, MAS||China||Korea|