Shuttle Royalty: Unveiling the Top 10 Greatest Shuttlers Of All Time

Badminton, a sport demanding finesse, agility, and rapid reflexes, has seen the ascent of numerous exceptional athletes who have made an enduring impact on the game. From the legendary Lin Dan to the adaptable Tai Tzu-Ying, these athletes have not just ruled the court but have also become synonymous with brilliance in badminton. 

This piece commemorates the top 10 badminton players in history, each possessing a distinctive style and an impressive array of achievements that have engraved their names in the records of the sport. Let’s breakdown the top ten shuttlers of all time:


Lin Dan's career by numbers: Two Olympic golds, five World C'ships and two  decades of dominance
Lin Dan (Credit: NBC Sports)

1. Lin Dan (China)

Lin Dan, the remarkable Chinese badminton maestro renowned for his outstanding skills in singles, was born on October 14, 1983, in Longyan, China, to parents Gao Xiuyu and Lin Jainbin. Commencing his badminton journey at the age of 18, Lin Dan became a part of China's national team, marking the beginning of an exceptional career. 

Guided by Xia Xuan Ze, a former badminton player turned coach, Lin Dan refined his abilities as a member of China's national badminton team. Lin Dan's illustrious career is adorned with numerous accolades, solidifying his status as a two-time Olympic champion, a five-time World Champion, and a six-time All-England Champion. His outstanding achievements include a rare distinction – being the first and only player to secure this triumvirate of titles. 

With an impressive collection of 66 singles titles to his credit, Lin Dan's accomplishments feature 15 BWF Super Series titles, 5 BWF Excellent Series Premier titles, and 1 BWF Fantastic Series Finals title. Despite his extraordinary feats, the Chinese badminton sensation currently holds the 20th position in the BWF ranking. His overall record showcases an impressive tally of 666 wins and 131 titles, emphasizing his enduring impact on the sport.


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Lee Chong Wei (Credit:

2. Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia)

Lee Chong Wei, a celebrated Malaysian badminton player, was born into a Malaysian-Chinese family in Bagan Serai, Malaysia, to parents Lee Ah Chai and Khor Kim Choi. Initiating his badminton venture at the age of 11, Lee Chong Wei drew early motivation from his father, who played a crucial role in igniting his passion for the sport. 

Guided by Misbun Sidek, a former Malaysian badminton player and the present director of the Malaysia National Junior Badminton team, Lee refined his skills and emerged as a dominant figure in the badminton arena. Lee Chong Wei, for an extended period, held the esteemed title of "Datuk" as a tribute to his exceptional accomplishments at the pinnacle of the sport. Noteworthy is his distinction as the sole Malaysian player to maintain a number 1 ranking for more than a year. 

His distinguished career boasts numerous accolades, encompassing 3 Olympic silver medals, 5 BWF Championships, and 5 gold medals in the Commonwealth Games. Furthermore, Lee clinched silver medals in the World Championships and the Thomas Cup, showcasing unwavering excellence on the global stage. Away from the badminton court, Lee Chong Wei chronicled his journey in the autobiography "Dare to Be Champion”, a bestselling work in Malaysia that provides insights into his life and triumphs in the realm of badminton.


HS Prannoy picks unassuming and skilful Taufik Hidayat as his hero
Taufik Hidayat (Credit:

3. Taufik Hidayat (Indonesia) 

Taufik Hidayat, a retired badminton luminary from Indonesia, is renowned as the closest competitor to the dominant world champion, Lin Dan. Born on August 10, 1981, in Bandung, Indonesia, Taufik Hidayat gained fame for his exceptional skills, particularly his smooth footwork, deceptive net play, and mastery of forehand jump and drop shots. 

Initiating his badminton journey at the tender age of 9, Taufik made his international debut in 1996, under the guidance of Mulyo Handoyo, a distinguished Indonesian badminton coach. Throughout his illustrious career, Taufik secured 27 titles, including the notable achievement of delivering the fastest smash in the history of singles competition in badminton. 

Having retired from professional play in 2012, Taufik transitioned into nurturing the sport's future by establishing the Taufik Hidayat Arena, a training center where enthusiasts can learn and play badminton. Taufik's impact on the badminton world is further exemplified by Yonex's homage to him through the launch of a racket named Arcsaber Z Slash, symbolizing the player's tenacious spirit on the court.


Taiwan's Tai Tzu-ying and Wang Tzu-wei advance to quarterfinals of  Badminton World Championship - News - RTI Radio Taiwan International
Tai Tzu-Ying (Credit: Taiwan Info)

4. Tai Tzu-Ying (Chinese Taipei)

Tai Tzu-ying, born on June 20, 1994, is a Taiwanese badminton player of notable acclaim. Achieving the remarkable feat of becoming the world No. 1 in women's singles at the age of 22 in December 2016, she holds the record for the longest tenure as the women's singles top-ranked player in BWF history, maintaining the position for an impressive 214 weeks as of August 30, 2022. 

Tai Tzu-ying secured the women's singles silver medal in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and earned the gold medal in both the 2017 Summer Universiade and the 2018 Asian Games. Her prowess extends to year-end tournaments, as she clinched victory at the BWF Superseries/World Tour Finals four times and the All England Open thrice as of 2020. 

Further adding to her list of achievements, Tai Tzu-ying boasts three Asian Championships titles, triumphing in 2017, 2018, and 2023. With her stellar performances and consistent success, Tai Tzu-ying has established herself as one of the most accomplished and enduring players in the world of badminton.


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Kento Momota (Credit: Japan Times)

5. Kento Momota (Japan) 

Kento Momota, the Japanese badminton sensation renowned for his exceptional skills and unyielding playing style, was born on September 1, 1994, in Mino, Japan, to his father Nobuhiro Momota. Despite information being available about his father, his mother has remained a private figure, introducing an element of mystery into his personal life. 

Growing up alongside his older sister Meiko, who played a pivotal role as his primary caregiver, Momota ventured into the realm of badminton during his second-grade years. His badminton journey culminated in joining the Japanese national team in 2011, propelling him to the esteemed position of World No. 1 in singles. 

Momota's remarkable career is adorned with numerous accolades, encompassing two World Championships, two Asian Championships, and one All-England title. His outstanding performance in the 2019 season earned him a coveted spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for "The most badminton men’s singles titles in a season," as he clinched an impressive 11 titles during that remarkable period.


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Saina Nehwal (Credit: Gulf News)

6. Saina Nehwal (India)

Saina Nehwal, an acclaimed and highly skilled badminton player from India, holds a prominent place in the realm of Indian sports. Born on March 17, 1990, in Hisar, Haryana, Saina Nehwal is the daughter of Usha Rani Nehwal and Harvir Singh Nehwal, both of whom were accomplished badminton players. Her mother achieved recognition as a Haryana state player, while her father excelled as a university-level badminton player. 

Saina Nehwal made history as the first Indian badminton player to secure a medal at both the Olympics and the BWF series. Additionally, she clinched a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, further enhancing her stellar achievements. Commencing her international journey in 2006, Saina Nehwal left an indelible mark by winning the Asian Satellite Badminton Tournament twice, an unprecedented accomplishment. 

Over the course of her career, she has accumulated an impressive total of 24 titles and received numerous national awards, including the Arjuna Award, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, Padma Shri, and Padma Bhushan awards.


To Peter 'the Great Dane' Gade
Peter Hoeg Gade (Credit: BWF)

7. Peter Hoeg Gade (Denmark)

Peter Hoeg Gade, a celebrated badminton figure hailing from Denmark, entered the world on December 14, 1976, in Aalborg, Denmark. Renowned for his outstanding footwork, speed, aggressive playing style, and court coverage, Peter Gade embarked on his badminton journey in 1994. His retirement unfolded in 2012 following an exit in the quarter-finals of the French Opens. 

During his zenith, Gade claimed the prestigious title of World No. 1, maintaining this position from 1998 to 2001 and earning accolades as the most technically gifted player of his era. His remarkable career is studded with a multitude of titles and championships, including the All England Open Badminton Championship in 1999, five European Championships, and an impressive 22 Grand Prix titles. 

After stepping away from professional play in 2018, Gade embraced a new role by establishing the Peter Gade Academy, with a mission to foster and train emerging talents in the realm of badminton.


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Carolina Marin (Credit: Sports Lumo)

8. Carolina Marin (Spain) 

Carolina Maria Marin Martin, the professional badminton player hailing from Spain, was born on June 15, 1993, in Huelva, Spain. Renowned for her lively celebrations and, more notably, her significant victories, Carolina Marin played a pivotal role in disrupting the long-established Asian dominance in women's badminton singles. 

Beyond her successes on the court, she set a new standard for speed and fitness in women's singles, becoming a benchmark for her fellow female badminton players. In addition to her on-court accomplishments, Carolina Marin takes on roles as an ambassador for the Spanish Football league La Liga and Melia Hotels International, actively contributing to their promotion in various countries. 

Carolina Marin's remarkable badminton achievements encompass being an Olympic Champion, three-time World Champion, six-time European Champion, and the former World No. 1 in BWF rankings for women's singles. Her tenure as the World No. 1 lasted an impressive 66 weeks.


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Viktor Axelsen (Credit: IndiaToday)

9. Viktor Axelsen (Denmark) 

Viktor Axelsen born on 4 January 1994 is a Danish badminton player who is the current number one ranked men's singles player in the world. He has amassed a remarkable set of achievements, establishing himself as a premier competitor in the sport. Notably, he secured the bronze medal in men's singles at the 2016 Rio Olympics, a significant milestone in his illustrious career. 

Axelsen's excellence is further demonstrated in the BWF World Championships, where he created history by winning the gold medal in 2017, breaking a two-decade-long European drought in this accomplishment. Additionally, he claimed a bronze medal in the 2014 edition of the championships. 

In European competitions, Axelsen is a three-time champion in men's singles, emerging victorious in 2016, 2018, and 2020. His pivotal role in Denmark's team events is evident with a gold in the 2016 Thomas Cup and bronze in 2014 and 2018. Adding to his accolades, he secured a bronze medal in the Sudirman Cup in 2015. Axelsen's consistent triumphs in various BWF Superseries and World Tour events underscore his enduring influence on the global badminton stage.


Badminton - Chen Long looking forward to his son's support at Tokyo 2020
Chen Long (Credit:

10. Chen Long (China)

Chen Long, a skilled badminton athlete representing China, was born on January 18, 1989, in Shashi District, Hubei. As a former World No. 1, Chen Long demonstrated his prowess in men's singles by maintaining the top position for an impressive 76 consecutive weeks, reigning from December 2014 to June 2016. 

Chen Long embarked on his international badminton journey in 2007, initiating a successful career with victories in both the Asian and World Junior Championships. In 2009, he achieved a significant milestone by securing triumph in his inaugural professional tournament, the Philippines Open. 

His outstanding career is adorned with numerous accolades, including 1 gold, 1 silver, and 1 bronze medal at the Olympics, 2 gold and 2 bronze medals in the World Championships, 5 gold medals and 1 silver medal in the Sudirman Cup, 3 gold and 1 bronze medal in the Thomas Cup, and 2 gold and 2 silver medals in the Asian Games.

In the badminton arena, these ten players have etched enduring legacies that go beyond mere victories and titles. Their impact transcends the boundaries of the court, serving as inspiration for generations of players and fans. 

Lin Dan, Lee Chong Wei, Taufik Hidayat, Tai Tzu-Ying, Kento Momota, Saina Nehwal, Peter Hoeg Gade, Carolina Marín, Viktor Axelsen, and Chen Long – each name signifies a chapter in the intricate narrative of badminton history. Their contributions are destined to resonate through the revered halls of the sport, leaving an indelible mark for years to come.

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