Huang Sui was born on January 8, 1982, in the Hunan Province of China.
Her family was poor so Huang lived with her maternal grandmother until she was 4 years old. At 7 years old, Huang began training at the Anhua Badminton Technical School. To pay for training and tournaments, her father, Huang Chuanbiao, had to leave the family behind to find work in Zhuzhou. Huang’s mother stayed at the family home and frequently made trips to visit Huang at the school. Even during the winter, her mother would cycle up mountain roads to bring Huang food and treats.
Due to her natural talent, Huang improved rapidly but she still had a joyful and nonchalant attitude towards training. Coach Yang Zhiyong recognized her potential and knew that Huang would not develop her potential fully if her attitude did not change. He locked her in the bathroom and told her that she would not be let out until she promised to change her attitude.
In 1992, Huang entered the Hunan Provincial Institute of Sports Technology to train under Coach Tang Hui. When she was 15 years old, she was invited to be a part of the National Team 2 which was managed by Coach Wen Jiande. By the time Huang was promoted to the national team in 1999, she had already developed a reputation for her strong attack. Coach Tian Bingyi identified Huang as an ideal candidate for Women’s Doubles.
Huang enjoyed early success at the 1998 World Junior Championships in Melbourne. She silvered in Girls’ Doubles with Gong Ruina and bronzed in Mixed Doubles with Jiang Shan. Gong was the winner of the Girls’ Singles at the event.
Huang was sent out to the 1999 Swedish Open for her second international tournament. She and her partner, Lu Ying, made it to the finals where they eventually lost out to the Korean veterans, Chung Jae Hee and Ra Kyung Min, 6-15, 11-15.
The following week, Huang and Lu surprised everyone when they reached the Women’s Doubles final of the 1999 All England. They met Ra and Chung in the finals and the Koreans proved with the scores of 6-15, 8-15 that the young Chinese rising stars still had a long way to go before they could become true contenders for the prestigious title.
Huang and Lu had another chance to obtain their first international title later that year at the Hong Kong Open but once again fell short of victory. Huang would have to wait until October of the next year to win her first international title with Lu at the 2000 German Open.
At the start of 2001, the coaches decided to test new partnerships and Huang was paired up with Gao Ling for the Korea Open. The new pairing was booted out of the tournament in the quarterfinal round by local favourites, Ra Kyung Min and Kim Kyeung Ran. However, Huang and Gao did a 180-degree turnaround and astonished the world by sweeping opponent after opponent aside to earn a spot in the final round of the All England. The dark horses continued their winning streak and stamped out compatriots, Wei Yili and Zhang Jiewen, 10-15, 15-8, 15-9 on the way to the prestigious crown. The 2001 All England was only Huang and Gao’s second tournament together. In addition to their All England title, Huang and Gao also added titles from the Asian Badminton Championships, Japan Open and World Championships. All of these titles were achieved within 6 months of beginning their partnership.
The future looked bright for China as the newly minted pair of Huang and Gao were ready to take on the mantle from the recently retired Ge Fei and Gu Jun.
Apart from her international success, Huang naturally had success on Chinese soil as well. In 2001, at the 9th Chinese National Games, she and Zheng Bo lost to the engaged couple of Ge Fei and Sun Jun in the Mixed Doubles final. At the 10th Chinese National Games in 2005, she and Zheng went a step further than in 2001 and clinched the Mixed Doubles title. Huang helped Hunan win the Team Event that year.
In 2002, Huang and Gao had smooth sailing at the All England and secured a second time. The pair would hold an uncontested reign for 6 years from 2001-2006. On top of that, the terrific duo added three Japan Open titles (2001, 2003, 2006), two China Open titles (2002, 2003), two Indonesia Open (2002, 2003), two Korea Open (2002, 2007), two Malaysia Open (2006, 2007 – the very first Superseries tournament) and numerous other Open titles.
The Chinese pair competed in their first Asian Games in 2002. The event was held in Busan and they lost a controversial match against Ra Jyung-min and Lee Kyung-won with the scores of 8-11, 7-11. However, Huang and Gao were unwilling to leave their first Asian Games without a gold medal and redeemed themselves in the Women’s Team Event.
Huang and Gao were unable to defend their World Championship title in 2002. They would reach the finals of the World Championship four more times and emerge victorious in 2003 and 2006.
At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Huang and Gao defeated Ra Kyung Min and Lee Kyung Won in the semi-final 15-6, 15-4 to earn a spot in the final round. Unfortunately, they bowed out to Yang and Zhang 15-7, 4-15, 8-15 and were left with a silver medal. Yang and Zhang would also stop them at the 2005 and 2007 World Championships.
Huang and Gao were also part of China’s victorious Sudirman Cup campaigns in 2001 and 2005. They fared even better at the Uber Cup with three straight wins in 2002, 2004 and 2006. During the speed trials at the 2005 Sudirman Cup, Huang held the record for the hardest smash hit by a woman at 257 kph (160 mph).
After her 2006 Uber Cup win in May, Huang took several days of vacation to go back to Zhuzhou, Hunan to visit her family. She attended a friend’s birthday party where she met Wang Xiaojun, a famous local figure in real estate. After a whirlwind romance of a month, Wang proposed to Huang with roses and balloons in a private hotel room. Huang joyously accepted but Huang’s parents were concerned about the match as there was a 10-year age gap difference between the engaged couple.
Despite her parents’ disapproval, Huang and Wang tied the knot on July 6, 2006. Since the national training centre was in Beijing, Huang was unable to stay in Zhuzhou. Wang took over her daughterly duties of taking care of her parents and slowly won over his parent-in-laws with his dedication.
Four years later at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Huang and Gao had another fierce clash with Yang and Zhang. After a tough battle, Huang and Gao emerged victorious 18-21, 23-21, 21-14 to clinch the Women’s Doubles title that they were denied four years earlier. Huang and Gao carried over their triumphal momentum to the Women’s Team Event and China was able to successfully defend their title for another Asian Games.
In March 2007, two days before the All England, Huang received a call from home telling her that her father was sick. As her father was in good health and was rarely sick, Huang acknowledged the call and focused her attention to campaigning for their 7th consecutive All England title. At the All England, Huang’s chronic back injury gave her problems and the pair fell in the semi-final round to Zhang Yawen and Wei Yili 9-21, 21-19, 14-21. Huang withdrew from the Swiss Open and went home early to Zhuzhou on March 13. When Huang returned home, she immediately realized that her father’s illness was very serious. He was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Huang applied for a longer leave from the national team and took her father on vacation around Hainan. On the second day, her father coughed up blood and her mother had a mental breakdown. With her family falling apart, Huang felt that it was her duty to take care of her family.
On April 15, Li Yongbo the national team coach, Coach Tian Bianyi and 8 of the top national team players including Gao Ling, Zhang Ning and Lin Dan, and Gao Ling’s parents visited Huang’s parents. Coach Li told Huang, “When your father is sick, we all feel your pain but you need to be strong. You have walked a very long and difficult road to be where you are today. We all hope you will return to the team.” After everyone left, Huang’s parents told her to go back to the team. Her father told her, “It is your dream, my dream and a lot of people’s dream to see you win the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.”
With her family’s blessing, Huang returned to the national team. She said, “Since I have chosen to come back, I have a responsibility to my choice, my partner and the whole team.” Huang called home every day to check on her family. Upon her return to the team, Huang and Gao won more titles at the Macau Open, Korean Open, Malaysia Open and Thailand Open.
In October 2007, Huang’s father’s condition took a turn for worse. Even though she worked really hard to realize her Olympic dream, her heart was still in Zhuzhou with her family. Huang quit the national team with the consent of Li Yongbo to take care of her father. Huang was very aware of the fact that out of the four leading women in her generation, she was the only one without an Olympic gold medal. Huang said, “From a bigger perspective, China’s Women’s Doubles is so strong that without me, China can still win the gold or silver. From a smaller perspective, my family only has me and when they need me the most, I need to stay behind.” In doing so, Huang Sui missed out on a chance to participate at the coming 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Her father, Huang Chuanbiao, passed away on the 4th of December in 2007.
The most successful Women’s Doubles pair in recent years had not only left their mark due to their results, but also due to their infectious personality. As journalist Raphaël Sachetat once wrote, “This pair are exciting to watch not only for their natural talent, but also because it is obvious they enjoy each other’s company, and most of all, because they love being on court and giving their best. Just watch them stand on the podium. They always get the giggles.”
After her retirement from competitive play, Huang was appointed Deputy Director of the Hunan Provincial Badminton Administrative Center. Huang then moved to Australia and disappeared from the badminton scene.
She suddenly resurfaced in April 2012 to play at the Australian Open and caused a highly publicized affair. At the Australian event, Huang partnered former Chinese teammate, Tang He Tian, under the Australian flag. Their opponents, Cheng Wen Hsing and Chien Yu Chin of Chinese Taipei, won 21-8, 21-16 in the first round and quickly put to an end to Huang’s comeback.
Huang Sui was inducted into the BWF Hall of Fame in 2011.
2011 – BWF Hall of Fame
BIBLIOGRAPHY & REFERENCES
2003 All England Official Programme
2005 World Championships Official Programme
2006 All England Official Programme
2007 World Championships Official Programme
International Badminton – the first 75 years
Sudirman Cup 2009 Official Programme
World Badminton (Magazine)
-- By Yves Lacroix