KEVIN SANJAYA SUKAMULJO KEVIN THE UNSTOPPABLE
2017 was a stellar year for Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, and 2018 is not shaping up too badly, either.
After collecting seven Superseries titles in a year, the Indonesian badminton doubles specialist was named the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Male Player of the Year 2017 alongside his current partner Marcus Fernaldi Gideon. This remarkable achievement has been followed by three titles so far in 2018, including the prestigious YONEX All England Open.
Kevin, who has been playing badminton since he was three years old, has reached what most players in his sport can only dream of – number one in the men’s doubles world rankings. And he is not stopping there; he now has his sights set on winning at the 2018 Asian Games, especially as the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo (also known as Jokowi), has personally asked him and Marcus to bring home a gold medal.
President Jokowi, who met Kevin and his partner Marcus after their All England Open victory, motivated the pair to continue their excellent work and to make Indonesia proud. Having the Indonesian leader cheering him on at the Asian Games, to be held in Jakarta and Palembang from August 18 to September 2, has naturally elevated Kevin’s spirits even more. “I don’t want to disappoint him,” he says.
Aside from the Asian Games, Kevin also aims to triumph at the Olympics and the BWF World Championships. However, his next big tournament is the 2018 TOTAL BWF Thomas Cup, to be held in Bangkok from May 20 to 27. It has been 16 years since Indonesia last won the Cup, and, without a doubt, Kevin will be under pressure to contribute a point for his country.
It’s clear the 22-year-old will give all he has got, as he does in every game he participates in. He is doing it not only for glory, but also because of his genuine passion for the game. “I love badminton, and I want to play for as long as I can. I can’t imagine doing anything else,” adds Kevin, a fan of Chinese multiple Olympic and World badminton champion Lin Dan.
While he is clearly thankful for his career success, Kevin worries that one day he will no longer be on top. “Lately, I keep thinking how to not lose in every game, especially after having won six consecutive games, and sometimes it makes my brain tired,” he says. “But rather than feel this as pressure, I prefer to see it as motivation to do better.”
Kevin and Marcus, nicknamed ‘the Minions’ by their fans because of their agility, refuse to give in to despair if they have an unsuccessful game. nstead, they analyse what went wrong and discuss ways to make sure those mistakes don’t happen again.
The bond between the two is unquestionable. “Marcus is a diligent person, and he has an amazing ﬁghting spirit. I feel motivated when I’m with him. Above all, he and I have the same fundamental love of badminton, which makes us enjoy every moment,” says Kevin.
The young player’s popularity is rising fast. If you type his name into Google, you will ﬁnd numerous articles praising his performance and interesting ﬁeld style, as well as gossip about his personal life. How does he handle the growing fame? “I try my best to stay grounded and not give too much thought to what people say about me,” he says. “I realise there will always be pros and cons. I can’t expect people to always say positive things about me. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.”
However, Kevin is extremely grateful to his fans. “The support from fans is essential to keep me and my partner motivated. Because of them, I always want to give more. I hope they can support us not only when we win the game but also when we lose,” he says.
As Kevin is continually participating in badminton tournaments all over the world, he is frequently in the air and prefers to ﬂy Garuda Indonesia. “If I have the choice, I want to ﬂy with Garuda Indonesia all the time. I love the aircraft as well as the services,” he adds with a smile.
It seems Kevin will continue to ﬂy high, as his journey isn’t stopping any time soon.