Are you wondering about the best badminton players of all time? Badminton’s history stretches back many years — but throughout this time, which players have proven themselves to be the most skilled and determined?
In this post, you’ll find nine of the best badminton players to date, including five all-time legends and four current players to watch.
Top Badminton Legends
Here are five of the top badminton legends of all time:
Lin Dan is one of the most powerful and skillful players in badminton history. Born in China in 1983, he started learning the sport at the age of five. After years of practice, he joined the Chinese National Badminton Team at just 18 years old.
Lin Dan went on to become a two-time Olympic champion and five-time World champion. He’s also won 66 singles titles during his career and was ranked number one in men’s singles for 233 weeks.
Together, these achievements have made him one of the best badminton players — if not the best — in the world.
Lee Chong Wei
Lee Chong Wei is another unforgettable legend in badminton. He held remarkably long streaks as one of the world’s top players, ranking number one in men’s singles for 349 weeks. This includes a 199-week streak that spanned from August 2008 to June 2012. And to top it all off, he’s also a three-time Olympic silver medalist.
Because of his enormous heart, lengthy list of accomplishments, and jaw-dropping skills, fans around the world regard Lee Chong Wei as a role model and badminton legend.
Taufik Hidayat is an Indonesian badminton player who started playing regional badminton at just nine years old. He went on to become an Olympic champion, World champion, and six-time winner of the Indonesia Open. Among fans, he’s well-known for his speed, strategic skill, and famous backhand smash.
Hidayat is a prime example that you don’t have to focus on power or strength alone to reach the top of your game. Instead, his speed, strategy, and mental toughness are what helped him reach his legend status.
When you think of badminton legends, singles players are often the first to come to mind. But Tony Gunawan, an Indonesian-born American pro, is a top player who made his name playing doubles.
Gunawan is a former Olympic gold medalist, World champion, and U.S. National Badminton Championships winner. And in August of 2005, his unexpected World Championship win with Howard Bach became the first ever badminton title win for the USA team. Among his fans and peers, these accomplishments have made him one of the top doubles players in history.
Zhang Ning is a former badminton player who set extraordinary records as a woman in the sport. She reached the peak of her career a bit later than others normally do — but that didn’t stop her from making history. She won her first Olympic gold medal in 2004 and defended it successfully four years later, winning another gold medal at 33.
With these wins, she became the only woman ever to gain consecutive Olympic gold medals in badminton singles. These achievements (along with many other triumphs during her career) are what brought her into the BWF Hall of Fame in 2021.
Here are four of the top badminton players to watch today:
Kento Momota is known for his unrelenting playstyle that brings in points through strategy, rather than raw power.
He was number one in men’s singles for 121 weeks, from 2018 until late 2021. He also surpassed Lee Chong Wei’s record of the most titles ever won in a single season, coming in with 11 wins in 2019. This streak landed him in the Guinness Book of World Records for most badminton men’s singles titles in a season.
Overall, Momota’s drive, determination, and accomplishments have made him a favorite of fans around the world.
Viktor Axelson is a Danish badminton player who discovered his love for the sport at just six years old. Today, he’s ranked number one in the BWF men’s singles division. On the court, he’s known for his steep, sharp smash and offensive playstyle.
Axelsen started making waves in the badminton world early on, winning his first World Championship at just 23 years old. Since then, he won gold at the 2020 Olympics and broke a record by winning all three World Tour Singles 1000 titles in one season.
Carolina Marin is a 29-year-old Spanish athlete who’s just starting to leave her mark in badminton’s history. So far, she’s become a three-time World Championship winner, a six-time European Championship winner, and an Olympic gold medalist.
Beyond that, she was ranked as BWF’s number one women’s singles player for 66 total weeks. On the court, she’s known for her speed, strength, and consistent all-around performance.
Tai Tzu Ying
Tai Tzu Ying claimed her spot as the top women’s singles player at the age of 22 in 2016. And she kept that title for 200 weeks — longer than any other female player ever has.
She’s a three-time BWF Super Series winner, an Olympic silver medalist, and a 2017 Summer Universiade gold medalist. And because she likely has many strong years left in her career, she’s definitely a player worth watching.
The Bottom Line on the Best Badminton Players of All Time
When you think of all-time badminton legends, names like Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan are almost always the first to come up. These players have the heart, mental toughness, and drive that created their legacy. But numerous other badminton players have made history in their own right, beyond those mentioned here.
In addition, current players like Kento Momota, Viktor Axelsen, Tai Tzu Ying, and Carolina Marin have been making incredible strides in the badminton world. All in all, it’s an exciting time to be a fan of the sport.
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