Australian Open Winners Who Became Olympic Champions

If not for the Covid-19 global pandemic, the finals of the CROWN GROUP Australian Open 2020 would have taken place today in Sydney.

The tournament, in its initial years a platform for young players – especially from the Oceania region – to test themselves in high intensity contests, has grown in stature in recent times. Currently a Super 300 event on the HSBC BWF World Tour, the competition has been attracting more and more elite players since the turn of the century.

For some of the shuttlers, emerging triumphant here has proven a good omen – five of them went on to be crowned Olympic champions.

Susi Susanti (Indonesia)
Australian Open champ: 1990
Olympic gold: 1992

Susanti, a dominant women’s singles force in the early 1990s, participated in three events at the 1990 edition, including the women’s and mixed doubles. Then 19 years old, she took the singles title by dethroning defending champion and home favourite Anna Lao with a handsome 11-1 11-4 victory. Two years later, she became the sport’s first women’s singles Olympic gold medallist.

Chen Long (China)
Australian Open champ: 2015
Olympic gold: 2016

Chen was already an established premier shuttler when he rose to the top of the podium Down Under in 2015. However, he arrived having failed to garner success at the previous two tournaments and the testing 21-12 14-21 21-18 final win over Viktor Axelsen thrusted confidence back into his game. A year on, he reigned supreme in Rio. Who did he beat in the last four? Axelsen.

Carolina Marin (Spain)
Australian Open champ: 2015
Olympic gold: 2016

Like Chen, Marin achieved glory in Brazil, making history as Europe’s first Olympic women’s singles champion in the process. Having lost the Australian Open final a year earlier to Saina Nehwal, the Spaniard made amends by besting Wang Shixian 22-20 21-18 in 2015. As a result, she scaled the BWF World Rankings summit 11 days later, a career first.

Lee Hyo Jung (Korea)
Australian Open champ: 1999
Olympic gold: 2008

Among those in this list, Lee had to wait the longest for Olympic acclaim. Aged 18, she triumphed in Australia with seasoned women’s doubles partner Ra Kyung Min in 1999.  At Beijing 2008, she was the senior in her mixed doubles combination with Lee Yong Dae. Though unseeded, the duo went all the way and defeated top seeds Liliyana Natsir/Nova Widianto in the gold medal clash in China.

Kim Dong Moon (Korea)
Australian Open champ: 1999
Olympic gold: 1996, 2004

When Kim became men’s doubles champion in Australia in 1999, he had already won an Olympic gold – in mixed doubles in Atlanta three years earlier. But he added another accolade at Athens 2004 in men’s doubles, this time alongside Ha Tae Kwon. He remains the only Korean shuttler to win two gold medals at the Summer Games.

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