15 Best Badminton Players of All Time

Who remembers playing Badminton in our back yards, thinking it was one of the best games to kill time?

Many individuals around the globe took this game by their heart to represent their nation in the highest order of the “Shuttler’s world,” and only a handful of them created history and proved to be one of the best Badminton Players the world had ever seen.

Badminton game
Badminton game

With a massive growth in the YONEX industry and several countries dominating the sport, here are the 15 best badminton players of all time.

But before we get into the details, here is the list of players included in today’s list. 

15 Best Badminton Players of All Time

We will cover brief details about the 15 best badminton players. We have listed from our top 15 and saved the best for the last to keep it more interesting. So, keep reading!

Players NamesNationality
15. Clen LongChina
14. Morten Frost HansenDenmark
13. Viktor AxelsenDenmark
12. Son Wan-hoSouth Korea
11. Kento MomotoJapan
10. Han AipingChina
9. Peter høeg GadeDenmark
8. Li LingweiChina
7. Liem Swei KingIndonesia
6. Rudy HartonoIndonesia
5. Tony GunawanIndonesia
4. Taufik HidayatIndonesia
3. Gao LingChina
2. Lee Chong WeiMalaysia
1. Lin DanChina

15. Chen Long

  • Date of Birth: 18 Jan 1989, Age: 33 Years Old
  • Years Active: 2007 to Present
  • Career Records: 441 wins, 114 losses
  • Handedness: Right

The man who was a key figure for China in the Single’s category was once ranked number one globally, now holding number six.

With the achievements such as the:

  • Player of the Year by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) (2014 & 2015)
  • The National May 1st Labor Medal (2015)
  • Sports Medal for outstanding Athlete of the Year (2018)

And with his Philosophy, “Be yourself” is certainly a mentor to many young badminton players.

The Olympic gold medalist of 2016 Rio de Janeiro, Chen Long, won silver in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Along with that, he has bagged 18 gold, 9 silver, and 6 bronze from different international games like World Championships, 2012 London Olympic, Sudirman Cup, Thomas Cup, Asian Games, Asian Championships, East Asian Games, World Junior Championships, and Asian Junior Championships.

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14. Morten Frost Hansen

  • Date of Birth:  4 April 1958, Age: 64 Years Old
  • Years Active:  1976 to 1991
  • Career Records: 71 wins, 17 losses
  • Handedness: Right 

Morten Frost, often referred to as “Mr. Gentleman,” spent a startling twelve years in the top three of the Badminton world rankings. 

He was a stunning athlete with fluid footwork; his style was a cross between the traditional singles game featuring clears (lobs) and drops, with smashes often reserved for weak return.

The modern singles games featured more smashing from the outset of a rally to create openings.

Morten Frost serving back during a match (Source: Wikimedia)

Most notably for his top performance in the eighties, with a back-to-back European gold in 1984 and 1986 and two silvers at the World Championships in 1985 and 1987, which earned him a place in the BWF Badminton Hall Fame in 1998.

With a good run in the 1985 and 1987 Olympics, he managed to bag two Silver medals during the tournament. 

 13. Viktor Axelsen

  • Date of Birth: 4 January 1994, Age: 28 Years Old
  • Years Active: 2010 to present
  • Career Records:  339 wins, 135 losses
  • Handedness: Right

With multiple gold medals in the European Men’s Team Championships to his name, Axelsen was a key figure and a backbone for the Danish team.

Viktor Axelsen was currently ranked two on the February 2021; once was hailed the Best Player in 2017 with astonishing results to put him amongst the greatest.

The Danish badminton player is the first singles player to have won every BWF World Tour 1000 title in the same season.

Gold in the Olympics (2020) and World Championships each, he is regarded as one of the most profound athletes in Denmark’s history.

12. Son Wan-ho

  • Date of Birth: 17 May 1988, Age: 34 Years Old
  • Years Active: 2005 to present
  • Career Records:  339 wins, 188 losses
  • Handedness: Right

Born in South Korea and a well-known athlete in the game, Son Wan-ho was admired for his defensive attributes, calmed in intense situations, and hailed the world number one in the Men’s Singles in May 2017.

With breathtaking high smashes, handling, and numerous titles to his name, such as

  • BWF World Championships.
  • Summer Universiade.
  • BWF World Tour (Three titles)
  • Superseries (Two titles, Five runners-up)
  • Grand Prix (Four titles, Two runners-up)
  • International Challenge/Series (One runner-up)

And a crucial player for his nation, he has undoubtedly retired with many prestigious silverware and medals.

11. Kento Momota

  • Date of Birth: 1 September 1994, Age: 27 Years Old
  • Years Active: 2011 to present 
  • Career Records: 341 wins, 81 losses
  • Handedness: Left

Born in Japan, Kento Momoto is regarded as one of the most skillful players of this decade. With a similarity between Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei in his style of play.

His easiness in the court, distinguishable playing skills, and perfection for strokes and smashes undoubtedly put him on this list.

Kento Momoto during a match (Source: Wikimedia)

A nightmare for his opponents for his sublime techniques, making it very difficult for them to get through with his strengths in his quickness, skill, fast footwork, and excellence offensive and defensible, he has been dominating the badminton world for a while.

10. Han Aiping

  • Date of Birth: 22 April 1962, Age: 60 Years Old
  • Years Active: 1978 to 1989 
  • Career Records: 21 wins, 4 losses
  • Handedness: Right

Han Aiping was an icon for China and the Badminton World in the women’s game and ranked among the greats in the 1980s.

Known for her superb overhead stroke and vision, only a few players were able to handle her.

Aiping and her teammate, arch-rivals, and sometimes double partners Li Lingwei dominated International Singles play for most of the decade, each winning the IBF World Championships.

Stacked with titles such as 5 times World Champions, 5 World Cup, and 2 Asian Games and leading the Chinese team to victory in the Uber Cup (women’s world team) competition, she is one of the greatest of all time.

9. Peter Høeg Gade

  • Date of Birth:  14 December 1976, Age: 45 Years Old
  • Years Active: 1994 to 2012
  • Career Records:  517 wins, 155 losses
  • Handedness: Right

Hailing from Denmark, who retired in 2012, Peter Høeg Gade topped the World ranking chart consecutively from 1998 to 2001.

He was regarded as the Iconic badminton player in sports history; he was remarkable for his exemplary display on the court.

Born to amateur badminton player parents, he followed their footsteps to win the many prestigious awards such as Five times European Championship crowns in the men’s single’s event and a mind-boggling twenty-two Grand Prix Title.

With his trophy cabinet filled with success, he has one of the most successful players in the Badminton world.

8. Li Lingwei 

  • Date of Birth: 4 January 1964, Age: 58 Years Old
  • Years Active:  1980 to 1989
  • Career Records:  30 wins, 2 losses
  • Handedness: Right

A role model for many and ranked among the greatest in the history of the women’s game, Li Lingwei had led China to many glories.

Three times Gold in World Champions, Seven times World Cup, two times Asian Games, and three times Uber Cup speaks about her achievements and her prosperous life in the world of badminton.

Apart from this, Lingwei was also elected as a member of the 2012 International Olympic Committee. Further, she was elected as the Vice President of the 2016 Chinese Olympic Committee.

7. Liem Swei King

  • Date of Birth: 28 February 1956, Age: 66 Years Old
  • Years Active:  1974 to 1988
  • Career Records:  14 wins, 3 losses
  • Handedness: Right

Included in the Hall of Fame (2002), Liem Swei King was one of those few players worth watching with eyes focused on him. His diligence and work ethic towards his game was some of the the critical factors of his gameplay.

In his time, he reached the Ultimate round of the World Championships on two occasions, in 1980 and 1983, only to win on the first occasion.

His movie “King” takes us through his life and how he came to a turning point where it was a now or never situation aspiring to young talents worldwide.

6. Rudy Hartono

  • Date of Birth: 18 August 1949, Age: 72 Years Old
  • Years Active:  1965 to 1982
  • Career Records:  15 wins, 4 losses
  • Handedness: Right

Rudy Hartono was a former Indonesian badminton player who was at the peak of his time.

One of the best badminton player, Rudy Hartono.
One of the best badminton players, Rudy Hartono.

He won the Men’s Singles title at the prestigious All England Championship 8 times seven times consecutively from (1968-1974) and a  World Championship (1980) on his only attempt.

A Guinness World Record holder dominated the event like very few others, winning eight titles in all (1968-1976), which no one had ever achieved before.

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5. Tony Gunawan

  • Date of Birth: 9 April 1975, Age: 47 Years Old
  • Years Active:  1992 to 2001
  • Career Records:  501 wins, 163 losses
  • Handedness: Right hand

Tony Gunawan was a former Indo-American badminton player. Gunawan won a Gold medal in the Olympics and the World champion with Indonesia, following another World champion later with the United States of America.

Regarded as the Greatest Double Player in badminton history, he was a superb all-court player with a particular facility in the forecourt.

With honors such as the 2000 Olympic Gold, 2001, and 2005 IBF World Championships with three men’s Doubles partners, he indeed had dominated the stage. 

4. Taufik Hidayat

  • Date of Birth: 10 August 1981, Age: 40 Years Old
  • Years Active:  1996 to 2014
  • Career Records:  413 wins, 138 losses
  • Handedness: Right

Taufik Hidayat, the Indonesian badminton player, holds the record of the fastest smash (305 km/hr) in the 2006 World Champion.

Often adored by his fans for his magical plays and renowned for his unique and original style of play, Hidayat was a player who was enjoyable to watch.

Taufik Hidayat during Olympics (Source: Wikimedia)

A talent in the 2000s, he quickly burst onto the scene, and with the confidence, sharpness, and an eye for victory, it certainly made him one of the greats within the game.

3. Gao Ling

  • Date of Birth: 14 March 1979, Age: 43 Years Old
  • Years Active:  1993 to 2009
  • Career Records:  611 wins, 128 losses
  • Handedness: Right

Gao Ling is one of the greatest YONEX All England Champions in the modern era and one of the most successful doubles players in the history of China and women’s badminton by naming four medals to her name, the most by any player.

Her Women’s Doubles partner Huang Sue scripted history by winning six consecutive Championships from 2001 to 2006.

With all the achievements and titles she earned in her career, Ling is sure to be on our list of best badminton players.

2. Lee Chong Wei

  • Date of Birth: 21 October 1982, Age: 39 Years Old
  • Years Active: 2000 to 2019
  • Career Records: 741 wins, 146 losses
  • Handedness: Right

Born in Malaysia, Datuk Lee Chong Wei is the only Malaysian badminton player who has to hold the World no. 1 ranking for more than a year, including a 199-week streak from 21 August 2008 to 12 June 2012.

A triple Olympic Silver medalist in the Men’s Singles event of the year 2008,2012 and 2016 and has dominated the Badminton Asia Championship in 2006 and 2014.

He was bestowed with the title of “Datuk Wira” from Malacca Governor Moha Khalil Yaakob.

1. Lin Dan

  • Date of Birth: 14 October 1983, Age: 38 Years Old
  • Years Active: 2000 to 2020
  • Career Records: 684 wins, 145 losses
  • Handedness: Left

When we talk about the most significant player Badminton, the name “Lin Dan” automatically is included in the conversation. He is the best shuttler to have ever held a badminton racket.

At the age of just 21, an Olympic Gold medalist, he has been given the nickname “Super Dan.”

Lin Dan
Lin Dan, the best badminton player.

A two-time Olympic gold medalist, five-time World Champion, and a six-time All England Champion with an astonishing record of 666 career wins was his best career record.

An aggressive player and defense of the finest, he was unlikely to be stopped during his prime. 

Determination, poised with perfection in all attributes and an eye of an eagle, he had undoubtedly dominated the court for almost two decades. 

Honorable Mentions

Besides the players mentioned above, many upcoming or rising stars have certainly earned a name for themselves.

Here are some of the honorable mentions on our list:

  1.  PV Sindhu
  2. Nozomi Okuhara
  3. Akane Yamaguchi
  4. Harim Haryanto
  5. Lee Yong-Dae
  6. Li Xuerui
  7. Chou Tien Chen
  8. Anthony Sinisuka Ginting
  9. Kidambi Srikanth
  10. Jonatan Christie
  11. Tommy Sugiarto

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Conclusion

Talent is undoubtedly required, but hard work sets the par between two people, impacting your performance. As the old saying goes, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.

You can never achieve anything without a winning mentality and put your heart and soul into it. Even the top athletes in the world have accomplished or reached this stage through dedication, sacrifices, and diligence. 

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Comments

  1. I think you forgot about the honorable mentions to the double player such as Fu Haifeng, Cai Yun, Hendra Setiawan, Liliyana Natsir, Zhang Nan, Zhao Yunlei. They are Olympic gold medalist, world champion (4 times), rank no. 1 (with different partner), and have many BWF world tour titles. In my personal opinion, the men double and mix double are too interesting to leave.
    May be Park Joo bong more deserve to be best player than Son Wan-ho, base on his achievement as Korean players.

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