What Matters To Me: Badminton Star Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo

By Clairice Halim

The Indonesian badminton champion opens up about dealing with the pressure at the top

Tatler Asia

In the What Matters To Me series, a Generation T honouree describes what they do, why they do it, and why it matters.

Entertaining crowds with their antics and energy on the court, Kevin Sukamuljo and his doubles partner Marcus Fernaldi Gideon have a well-earned reputation as "The Minions” of the badminton world

But their game is about much more than flair. They are currently the world's number-one badminton men's doubles team, and have won the world's biggest tournaments over the past few years, including consecutive the All England championships.

Here, the 25-year-old badminton star describes what he does in his own words.

See also: What Matters To Me: Stephanie Sy

Playing singles is every badminton player’s dream. As time passed, I failed to win several tournaments in the singles category. The experience brought me down many times, and I wondered what I was doing wrong. But I trusted that my coaches knew better when they moved me to men’s doubles. From there I started to grow and won tournament after tournament. The road has never been easy, but in the end it was worth all the effort as it brought me to where I am today.

When I was younger, I slept in once and was banned from training at the academy for a week as a result. Because of my negligence, I could only sit on the sidelines and watch with anxiety as others trained. It was a memorable lesson that pushed me to value every moment and always give my best. Back then, I was separated from my family and lived in a dormitory from the age of 12. I had to wake up at 6am to train before school, but I didn't envy the other kids because I enjoyed what I was doing. Since that lesson, I've always believed that the key to success is to be devoted and enjoy what you do."

Being in a relationship—that's what it's like to play doubles. You have to understand one another and put aside your own ego. You have to focus together on each point in the game. It was easy when we won games back to back, but when we lost our first tournament, it was time for some introspection—to find room to improve and communicate with each other better.

See also: What Matters To Me: Max Simpson

The road has never been easy, but in the end it was worth all the effort as it brought me to where I am today
Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo

Sport is in my blood. Since elementary school, I've always played sport. I vividly remember when I was four years old, watching my dad play badminton in our backyard. I wanted to join, so he gave me a chance to try. Later on, he organised a personal coach for me. Right then, I realised what I loved. I was lucky to have a family that supports me. 

I am not short-tempered; I am eager to win. On the court, sometimes things happen suddenly and the adrenaline in my blood rushes in. Even though all players are able to do the flick serve, many pundits have said I have one of the best, which I’m thankful for. It's a matter of timing and reading the opponent. You need to be fully aware of the situation in and make a decision in just a few seconds to successfully execute the flick serve.

Jet skiing is how I escape from the pressures of badminton. I also love to tinker with all vehicles, from bicycles to sports cars. Although I’m still learning, I find inner peace when I ride the jet ski because it’s so different from my daily routine. 

See other honourees from the Sports category of the Gen.T List 2019.

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