They were involved in some of the most memorable men’s doubles battles from the early-2000s onwards. Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng’s career was closely connected with that of Markis Kido, who in partnership with Hendra Setiawan, was one of the foremost pairs of their time.
On Wednesday 16 June, even as Cai and Fu were inducted into BWF’s Hall of Fame, they fondly remembered their former rival Kido, who had succumbed to a heart attack earlier in the week.
“He was an old rival, we met at the 2008 Olympics final. He was a good player, outstanding. A former Olympic champion, with excellent skills,” said Cai Yun.
“He was a nice guy with good sportsmanship. Off court, he was always smiling and very friendly, not proud at all. I feel very sad personally, although we used to be opponents, we had great respect for each other. I’d like to send my condolences to his family and hope that they stay strong in this time of sorrow.”
Fu Haifeng recalled that Kido’s fierceness on court contrasted with his personality off it.
“I feel that Kido had different personalities on and off the court. I played against him many times and he was like a cannon on court, very domineering and aggressive. He exemplified the typical Indonesian men’s doubles style of play. Off court, whenever I said hello to him, I found him to be very shy. Sometimes I’d tease him and say to him in Bahasa “makan”, which means to eat. He’d reply: “No, I’m fat”. When I heard of his passing, I was extremely sad.”
Cai and Fu had a 6-3 career record over Kido and Setiawan. The biggest stage they fought on was at the Beijing 2008 final, which was Cai and Fu’s home turf. Kido and Setiawan recovered from a first-game loss to stun the home favourites, 12-21 21-11 21-16.
That loss in the Olympic final turned into a moment of reckoning for Cai and Fu. The Chinese pair never lost another final in three subsequent World Championships and the London 2012 Olympics. In Fu’s case, he would win a second Olympic gold with a different partner, Zhang Nan.
“My most memorable match was at the Beijing Olympics in 2008,” recalled Cai. “We were playing at home and I really wanted to win the men’s doubles gold for China. As the host nation, we received a lot of support and also pressure. China had yet to win gold in men’s doubles so there was a lot of pressure on us. Despite winning the first game, the pressure caused us to lose the match, against Hendra and Markis. That loss greatly affected Fu and myself. I remember after we returned to the Games village, we took a shower and then we had a long chat in the room, until 4 or 5am. We had difficulty sleeping. We were very sad and in great despair. As a result of that loss, we realised that we had to be more courageous in facing any challenges in order to overcome it. That’s why I feel that this loss was important in helping us to clinch three World Championships and the London Olympics titles.”
Fu agreed that the Beijing 2008 final would have a lasting impression on their career.
“Which is my most memorable match? I think my answer is the same as Cai Yun. This match had great influence in our badminton career. Winning the Beijing Olympics gold was our ultimate goal when we formed our partnership. We managed to reach the final but failed to win it, that was our biggest regret. As a result of that loss and the intense pressure, I matured a lot and was more calm in dealing with the following tournaments, which included the 2009, 2010 and 2011 World Championships. When the 2012 London Olympics came along, we were well-prepared to play the final. So that match was a turning point in our career.”