Liang Chunsheng was born in Central Java, Indonesia, on October 4, 1952. He was the youngest of five sons in a Chinese-Indonesian family. Due to a law in Indonesia requiring Chinese living in Indonesia to change their standard two or three-word name to an Indonesian sounding one, Liang Chunsheng was later renamed Tjun Tjun. Unlike most great badminton players, Tjun Tjun started badminton quite late into the game at 14 years old. His coach, Stanley Gouw, matched him with Johan Wahjudi and the pair quickly won the Men’s Doubles event at the 1972 Indonesian National Championships in Solo.
Tjun Tjun and Wahjudi first garnered attention on the international stage when they won the World Invitation Tournament in November 1972. On their way to winning the tournament, Tjun Tjun and Wahjudi toppled first seeds and compatriots, Ade Chandra and Christian Hadinata, 15-10 15-10 in 40 minutes. Chandra and Hadinata’s loss to their not as well-known compatriots marked the beginning of a long and fierce rivalry.
The next year of 1973 witnessed Tjun Tjun and Wahjudi’s breakthrough to superstar status. Tjun Tjunand Wahjudi were the iconic Men’s Doubles pair of 1970s. Tjun Tjun was famous for his tight backhand serve, leaping net kills, amazing net interceptions and acrobatic jump smashes. His relentless attack secured many a victory. At the 1973 All England, Tjun Tjun fought through to the semi-final round in Men’s Singles before losing to the eventual winner, Rudy Hartono. In Men’s Doubles, Tjun Tjun and Wahjudi also missed out on their first All England title when they lost to rival, Chandra and Hadinata, in the final round. After losing to Chandra and Hadinata at the All England, Tjun Tjun and Wahjudi would get their revenge by denying their rivals the win at three other major tournaments – the Danish Open, German Open and Singapore Open. At the 1973 Singapore Open, it only took Tjun Tjun and Wahjudi a mere 20 minutes to vanquish Chandra and Hadinata. At the same tournament, Tjun Tjun crushed the top seed, Sven Pri, in the semifinal round of the Men’s Singles but fell short of the title after losing to Iie Sumirat in the finals. During the same year, Tjun Tjun paired up with archrival, Christian Hadinata, at the Pekan Olahraga Nasional (PON) Games, a multisport quadrennial event held in Indonesia, to take gold in the Men’s Doubles event.
Tjun Tjun was also a member of the Indonesian Thomas Cup team in 1973. In the final team tie against Denmark for gold, Tjun Tjun partnered Rudy Hartono to contribute a win to the 8-1 triumph for Indonesia. Additionally, Tjun Tjun had also won his previous three matches with Hartono to start his undefeated streak at the 1973 Thomas Cup.
The following year of 1974 would prove be to an even better year for Tjun Tjun. He and Wahjudi won five international titles in Men’s Doubles - the All England, Danish Open, Asian Games held in Iran and two World Invitation Tournaments (Scottish and Asian).
Tjun Tjun’s elder sister, Liang Chu Sia, was also at the 1974 Asian Games with him. Tjun Tjun and Wahjudi won the Men’s Doubles and she finished in second place in Women’s Singles. Four years later at the next Asian Games, Liang Chu Sia would win the gold medal in Women’s Singles. After her badminton playing career, she became a coach for the Indonesian team and continue on to coach the future Indonesian badminton star, Susy Susanti.
At the 1974 Asian World Invitation Tournament held in October, Tjun Tjun showcased his supremacy and versatility. He won the Men’s Doubles and was a finalist in both Men’s Singles and Mixed Doubles with Sri Wiyanti. In the Men’s Singles final, he lost to Svend Pri 15-3, 16-17, 0-15 and to Christian Hadinata and Regina Masli in the final round of the Mixed Doubles. Tjun Tjun and Wahjudi added their second All England title to their resume in 1975.
Tjun Tjun and Wahjudi started off 1977 by defeating Chandra and Hadinata again at the All England final to win their third All England title. A few weeks later, they were raring to prove their dominance again at the first ever IBF World Championships, which took place in Malmö, Sweden. In front of the five-thousand strong packed crowd at the Malmö Baltic Hall, Tjun Tjun and Wahjudi repeated their results at the All England by dismantling Chandra and Hadinata’s teamwork in 2 decisive games of 15-6, 15-4. The pair finished off their outstanding year with another win at the Southeast Asian Games. The following year, they defeated Chandra and Hadinata once again to grab their fourth All England title.
At the 1979 All England, Tjun Tjun and Wahjudi ran into some controversy during their semi final match against the Japanese pair of Yoshitaka Iino and Masao Tsuchida. Alan Jones the umpire of their match disqualified the Indonesians for taking too long to return from the five-minute interval between the second and third games. Referee Herbert Scheele overruled the umpire’s disqualification and play resumed. In the third game, Tjun Tjun and Wahjudi were down 4-12 but recovered to advance to the finals with the scores of 18-17. They then won the final against Swedes Stefan Karlsson and Claes Nordin 17-16, 15-3. Their Men’s Doubles win at the 1979 All England was one of the four swept by Indonesian players. The only title that Indonesia did not take home from the All England was the Women’s Singles title, which went to Lene Køppen of Denmark. It was the golden age of badminton for Indonesia.
Tjun Tjun participated in his third and final Thomas cup in 1979. Indonesia brushed aside all of their opponents on their way to victory and awarded goose eggs to both Japan and Denmark in the semi finals and finals respectively. Tjun Tjun and Wahjudi walked away undefeated in all four of their matches. The Thomas Cup of 1979 marked Indonesia’s fourth consecutive win at the prestigious team event. At the Thomas Cup,Tjun Tjun boasted a perfect record in both singles and doubles. He won all 4 matches in 1973, all 6 matches in 1976 and all 4 matches in 1979.
Unfortunately, Tjun Tjun would not be able to participate in the 1980 World Championships in Jakarta due to injury. However, Tjun Tjun and Wahjudi came back to grab their sixth All England title in March. In their campaign for their seventh record breaking title at the 1981 All England, the golden duo only managed to finish in second place after losing to Rudy Heryanto and Hariamanto Kartono 9-15 8-15. After their defeat, Tjun Tjun said, “we lost focus and were victims of a lack of mental preparation before the match and our game suffered – I feel disappointed not having beaten Kobberø and Hansen’s record of six titles at the All England.” Their six titles put them on equal footing for the most Men’s Doubles at the All England with Denmark’s Finn Kobberø and Jørgen Hammergaard Hansen and Ireland’s Frank Devlin and Gordon 'Curly' Mack. All three pairs share the honour for the record of the most titles in Men’s Doubles at the All England to this day.
“This incident made us decide to resign,” remarked Tjun Tjun after that tournament. “Competing in that arena [Wembley Stadium] is not a gift that falls from the sky… Being a champion there brings pride.”The explosive player then retired due to reoccurring back problems. Wahjudi once said, “Before the finals at one All England, Tjun Tjun developed back problems and a swollen foot. He was in such pain he wanted to pull out. I prayed for him, and we met an Indian doctor who gave him an injection. I had to carry him on my back to the court. He found the strength to play and we won. Then he collapsed. He had to go through the airport in a wheelchair.”
After his playing career, Tjun Tjun stayed involved with badminton as a member of the Technical Commission of the PBSI from 1989 to 1993 along with his former Doubles’ Partner, Wahjudi. Tjun Tjun founded PB Lotto, a badminton club, in East Jakarta with his sister, Liang Chiu Sia. In addition to the club, Tjun Tjun was also involved in business and stayed healthy by playing tennis.
Tjun Tjun’s eventual wife, Manli, had a school assignment in 1972 to collect autographs from badminton players. Eight years later in 1980, she married one of the greatest Men’s Doubles players of all time. Together, they had four children.
In 1986, Tjun Tjun received the IBF Meritorious Service Award. Tjun Tjun has won all of his titles in Men’s Doubles except for one in Mixed Doubles. Even more impressively, he almost always partnered Johan Wahjudi so it was fitting that the pair were inducted into the 2009 BWF Hall of Fame together.
1986 – IBF Meritorious Service Award
2009 – BWF Hall of Fame (with partner Johan Wahjudi)
BIBLIOGRAPHY & REFERENCES
Apa & Siapa (Sabaruddin Sa.)
Encyclopaedia of Badminton (Pat Davis)
Guinness Book of Badminton (Pat Davis)
The Straits Times
-- By Yves Lacroix