In the history of the Olympic Games, five shuttlers have gone on to be the gold medallists despite not being seeded; two being in doubles events.
Their unlikely success gives hope to participants at Tokyo 2020 that impossible is nothing.
Here are the special ones.
Though not seeded and their chances brightened by the absence of world champions Thomas Lund/Marlene Thomsen at the debut Olympics for mixed doubles, Kim and Gil arrived in USA ranked fifth in the world. The Koreans’ passage to the gold medal match was not thorny; they won all in straight games. The final however, required them going the distance against top-seeded world No.1 compatriots Ra Kyung Min and Park Joo bong, with Kim/Gil winning 13-15 15-4 15-12. Kim and Ra later formed a new partnership, in matrimony and on court, where they won the 1999 world title.
Perhaps the most surprising name on this list, the men’s singles legend was No.1 seed four years earlier in Sydney but lost in the quarterfinals. By 2004, the Indonesian had lost a bit of consistency and was not regularly challenging for major titles. In Greece, other than the three-gamer in the second round against Malaysian Wong Choong Hann, the unseeded Hidayat did not drop a single game as he strolled to gold. The success brought some confidence back, Hidayat would win the World Championships – his only one – the following year.
This was where a 19-year-old, fresh-faced Lee Yong Dae came into the global badminton reckoning. He combined with Lee Hyo Jung, seven years his senior, to stun some of the planet’s most accomplished pairs en route to Olympic acclaim. The run included victories over 2006 world champions Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson, third seeds Flandy Limpele and Vita Marissa of Indonesia and their top-seeded compatriots Nova Widianto/Liliyana Natsir in the title match.