Driven by the urge to make a career outside badminton, Tony Gunawan migrated to the United States of America in 2002. But it was in his adopted country that the aspiring computer engineer from Indonesia became a legend and now admits that he and badminton are "inseparable".
Gunawan created history in 2005 when he won his second men's doubles World Championship crown in Anaheim, USA, partnering Howard Bach. The title made him the only player to win the prestigious tournament for two different countries.
"I still can't believe that we won the 2005 title. I was in semi-retirement and played only because it was in USA," says Gunawan, who is here to participate in the World Championship that got underway on Monday.
Gunawan and Bach defeated Malaysian 12th seeds Tan Fook Choong and Wan Wah Lee 21-15, 18-21, 23-21 in the opening round of the men's doubles on Tuesday and now face the Japanese combination of Shintaro Ikeda and Shuichi Sakamoto.
The 34-year-old is known to strike gold with any partner and the results bear testimony. Gunawan won his maiden crown in 2001 for Indonesia with Halim Haryanto, a year after bagging the 2000 Sydney Olympics gold with his long-time partner Candra Wijaya.
"I guess it works because I man the net and my partners attack from behind," adds Gunawan, who played with Wijaya till last year.
Gunawan did not continue the association with Bach after the 2005 World Championship as he was yet to acquire US citizenship and Bach needed to play with a US citizen to qualify for the 2008 Olympics.
The duo is now together and though Gunawan has not set a retirement date, he knows the association with badminton is unshakable.
After dropping out of his computer-engineering course in 2005, Gunawan worked as an account assistant before taking up a coaching assignment with the Orange County Club in California and is now open to similar offers.
"I am getting quite a few inquiries, but I have a contract with the club till 2010," says Gunawan, who coaches at the club along with his World Championship winning partner Halim Haryanto.