Tony Gunawan and Howard Bach made history, as the first Americans to win the World Badminton Championship. They also both happen to be Asian Americans.
No American badminton player or team had ever finished higher than 16th in competition, but Gunawan and Bach defeated the world’s top players in consecutive nights to earn the World Championship title.
Bach competed in the 2004 Olympics with a different partner, and Gunawan won a gold medal in the 2000 Olympics, competing for Indonesia. In the final match, Gunawan was playing against his former partner whom he had won the gold medal with five years ago.
Gunawan is currently studying for a computer degree at Devry University.
“Its like a dream come true to come to the United States to try to promote this sport,” Gunawan said. “We didn’t expect that we were going to win, but we won anyway. It was really incredible and amazing.”
Bach’s father played badminton in Vietnam.
“I first started badminton at the age of 5 at the local YMCA,” Bach said. “My dad used to love playing it back in Vietnam. It was actually his dream to make the Olympics representing Vietnam. He never had the time or the opportunity. I just try to enjoy the game as much as I can and live up to my dad’s expectations.”
Gunawan now lives in Fullerton, Calif., and Bach, in San Francisco.
Born: February 22, 1979
Hometown: San Francisco, Calif.
Interesting: He was one of People Magazine’s “50 Hottest Bachelors” of 2004.
Studies: Cal State University of Fullerton, majoring in finance.
Family: His father, Cam Sen Bach, dreamed of representing Vietnam in badminton at the Olympics before bringing his family to San Francisco in 1982.
Awards: Member of the GM’s “Team Behind the Team,” as part of the 2000 General Motors contribution/promotion for the Olympic Games. Silver medalist in doubles at the 1999 Pan Am Games.
Born: April 9, 1975
Hometown: Surabaya, Indonesia
Interesting: He played with Candraw Wijaya to win the Olympic Gold in 2000 and against him to win the International Badminton Federation World Championships in Anaheim, Calif.
Studies: Devry University, studying computer engineering.
Family: His wife, Eti Tranta, played on the Indonesian national team, too. They married at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino wedding chapel in Las Vegas in 2002.
Awards: 2001 Men’s Doubles World Champion, 2001 All England Men’s Doubles Champion, 2001 Men’s Doubles World Grand Prix Champion.