On February 10, 1953, Ang Yu Liang was born to Mangku Prayitno (Ang Tjing Liang) and Sri Rahayu (Yu Thie King) in Malang, East Java, Indonesia. As required by law, those of Chinese ethnicity living in Indonesia had to change from their standard two or three-word Chinese names to Indonesian sounding ones. Ang Yu Liang was thusly renamed Johan Wahjudi. Wahjudi was the fourth child amongst seven children.
From a very young age, Johan wanted to emulate his father, Mangku Prayitno, who was a leather merchant keen on physical exercise and health. Wahjudi recalled spending his childhood running around nearby monuments as many times as he could. He first began badminton at the age of 6 years old at the Gajahputih Badminton Club, which was run by the local police. As an adult, Wahjudi would state that badminton was a good way to keep children busy and away from negative lifestyles involving drugs and idleness. After graduating from high school, he moved to Surabaya to train at the club, NT Rajawali, where the badminton legend, Rudy Hartono, also trained.
After training at NT Rajawali, Wahjudi moved again to train in Jakarta under the guidance of Stanley Gouw. Wahjudi was then matched to Tjun Tjun whose play perfectly complemented Wahjudi’s style of speed and attack. As soon as 1972, they established themselves as the top pair in Indonesia by winning the National Championships held in Solo. In the same year, they won their first international title at the World Invitation Tournament held in Jakarta. During that tournament, Wahjudi and Tjun Tjun defeated fellow countrymen and All England title holders, Christian Hadinata and Ade Chandra, 15-10, 15-10.
Roles would be reversed at the 1973 All England when Wahjudi and Tjun Tjun were badly beaten by Hadinata and Chandra in the final round 1-15, 7-15. Wahjudi and Tjun Tjun returned the favour later that year by defeating Hadinata and Chandra at the Denmark and German Opens. At the Singapore Open, Hadinata played with another partner, Indra Gunawan, and lost again to Wahjudi and Tjun Tjun. In the same year of 1973, Wahjudi partnered Gunawan at the Pekan Olahraga Nasional (PON) Games, a multi-sport quadrennial event held in Indonesia, and finished in second place after losing to his usual partner, Tjun Tjun and Hadinata. In 1973, Wahjudi reunited with Tjun Tjun to represent Indonesia at the Thomas Cup and brought home Indonesia’s second consecutive Thomas Cup title. The 1970s were a golden age for Indonesia. Wahjudi and Tjun Tjun would later be named as part of "The Magnificent Seven" along with Rudy Hartono, Liem Swie King, Iie Sumirat, Christian Hadinata and Ade Chandra.
By that time, Wahjudi and Tjun Tjun became the pair to beat in Men’s Doubles. At the 1974 All England, Wahjudi and Tjun Tjun brushed aside Hadinata and Chandra to take the title. This title at the All England would be the first of their 6 All England titles. Wahjudi and Tjun Tjun represented Indonesia at the 1974 Asian Games held in Tehran, Iran and once again outplayed Hadinata and Chandra in the final. The following year, Wahjudi and Tjun Tjun continued to hold the upper hand in their rivalry with Hadinata and Chandra by repeating their win at the 1975 All England. Wahjudi and Tjun Tjun then won a second and a third time at the Denmark Open and World Invitation Tournament in Kuala Lumpur. Apart from their participation in the second Thomas Cup win for Indonesia, 1976 was a dry year for the pair as far as individual titles were concerned.
Wahjudi and Tjun Tjun ended their year long title drought in 1977. They began the new year by winning their third title at the All England after defeating Hadinata and Chandra in the finals. Just a few weeks later, they faced off Hadinata and Chandra again in the finals of the first ever IBF World Championships in Malmö, Sweden and snatched the title away with a 15-6, 15-4 victory. Wahjudi and Tjun Tjun were crowned the first World Champions in Men’s Doubles in front of a 5000-strong crowd at the Malmö Baltic Hall. The pair ended their fantastic year with another win in Men’s Doubles at the Southeast Asian Games.
At the 1978 All England, Wahjudi and Tjun Tjun denied Hadinata and Chandra yet another title. The next year at the 1979 All England, Wahjudi and Tjun Tjun ran into some trouble during their semi final against the Japanese pair of Yoshitaka Iino and Masao Tsuchida. The umpire, Alan Jones, disqualified them on the basis that the Indonesians took too long to return from the five-minute interval between the second and third games. The tournament referee, Hebert Scheele, overruled the disqualification and the match continued onto the third game. In the third game, Wahjudi and Tjun Tjun were down 4-12 but they were fortunate enough to turn the tide of the game to 18-17 in their favour. In the final round, they met the Swedes, Stefan Karlsson and Claes Nordin, and won 17-16, 15-3. Their fifth title at the 1979 All England was one of the four claimed by Indonesian players. Women’s Singles player, Lene Køppen of Denmark, was the only player not from Indonesia to claim an All England title that year.
Wahjudi represented Indonesia at his third Thomas Cup in 1979. Indonesia demolished all their opponents with an especially notable semi-final finish of 9-0 against Japan and 9-0 against Denmark in the final. Wahjudi and Tjun Tjun won all four of their matches.
Wahjudi was unable to attend the 1980 World Championships in Jakarta because of Tjun Tjun’s injury. However, he and Tjun Tjun came back in time to grab their sixth All England title in March. Their 6 titles put them on equal footing with Denmark’s Finn Kobberø and Jørgen Hammergaard Hansen and Ireland’s Frank Devlin and Gordon 'Curly' Mack for the most Men’s Doubles titles at the All England. Unknowing to the pair, this international title was to be their last.
The pair’s loss in the next year’s 1981 All England Men’s Doubles final was a turning point for Wahjudi and Tjun Tjun. Their failure to defeat Rudy Heryanto and Hariamanto Kartono and secure their seventh record breaking title left them extremely disappointed. Afterwards, the pair decided to retire for personal reasons. All but one of Wahjudi’s international titles were won in Men’s Doubles with Tjun Tjun. Wahjudi officially retired from international competition the year after.
When asked to remark upon his playing career, Wahjudi said, “we were all amateurs with minimal sponsorship - no money, just clothing, travel, food and accommodation. I had to take time off from my business to compete…We played for the Red-and-White, the Indonesian flag, not for money…we were proud for our country, not for ourselves…” He was very proud that a country with origins as a colony could surpass her former European masters at badminton. Wahjudi was offered well-paid opportunities to train in Switzerland and South Korea but he refused those offers to play for his native Indonesia.
After retirement, Wahjudi was involved in the timber business. He sold and traded wood from Sulawesi. He is also the owner of a shuttlecock factory named JW. Wahjudi joined the Technical Commission of the PBSI from 1989 to 1993 with Tjun Tjun. He now coaches at the Hi-Qua Nikko Steel Badminton Club in his hometown, Malang. Wahjudi married Evisianawati and they have four children. Every morning, he plays tennis to stay fit, and occasionally plays badminton.
In 1986, Wahjudi received the IBF Meritorious Service Award and was inducted into the BWF Hall of Fame with Tjun Tjun in 2009.
1986 – IBF Meritorious Service Award
2009 – BWF Hall of Fame (with partner Tjun Tjun)
BIBLIOGRAPHY & REFERENCES
Apa & Siapa (Sabaruddin Sa.)
Encyclopaedia of Badminton (Pat Davis)
Guinness Book of Badminton (Pat Davis)
The Straits Times
-- By Yves Lacroix