Top 5 Ranked Mens Badminton Players Of All Time
Listed below are the top five men’s badminton players of all time, ranked in order from one through five. Rankings are based on several different factors, including career win-loss records, the number of championships won, appearances at Olympic events, and on-court skills. The country from which each player hails is also listed.
Who Are the Best Men’s Badminton Players of All Time?
- Lin Dan (China)
- Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia)
- Taufik Hidayat (Indonesia)
- Rudy Hartono (Indonesia)
- Morten Frost (Denmark)
1. Lin Dan
- Won each of the nine major international championships by the age of 28
- Five gold medals in the World Badminton Championships and two in the World Cup
- The only player to win gold medals at two consecutive Olympic Games (2008, 2012)
- Five gold medals at the Asian Games (Singles: 2010, 2014; Team: 2006, 2010, 2018)
- Named “Male Athlete of the Year” by China’s flagship television network in 2010
Nicknamed “Super Dan” within the badminton community, Lin Dan is not only the best badminton player to ever hail from China, but he’s also the greatest player of all time. Known for being a risk-taker, Lin consistently attempted difficult shots that rendered opposing players helpless, seemingly pinpointing the edge of the sidelines without landing the shuttlecock out of bounds every time.
2. Lee Chong Wei
- Held the number-one player ranking in the world for nearly four years
- Five gold medals at the Commonwealth Games (Singles: 2006, 2010, 2018; Mixed Team: 2006, 2010)
- Three silver medals at the Olympic Games (2008, 2012, 2016)
- Eight-time Penang Sportsman Award winner (2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2016)
- Named “Player of the Year” by the Badminton World Federation five times ( 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016)
Lee Chong Wei is undoubtedly the best badminton athlete from Malaysia, breaking many of the sport’s long-standing records before his retirement in 2019. Lee grew up playing basketball until his mother deemed it unsafe and forbade him from playing the sport again. This fact makes it all the more impressive that Lee was able to make a seamless transition to badminton and cement himself as the second-greatest player to ever live.
3. Taufik Hidayat
- Reached the Indonesian Open Championship a record six times
- Owner of 27 international titles
- Holds the record for the fastest recorded hit speed (190 mph)
- Three gold medals at Asian Championships (1998, 2002, 2006)
- Won men’s singles title at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece
In addition to being third on the all-time list, Taufik Hidayat is arguably the best badminton player out of the several dominant players that hail from Indonesia. He played in the same era as Lin Dan, competing against him many times in World Championship matches that represented the most highly contested rivalry the sport had ever seen.
4. Rudy Hartono
- Eight-time winner of the All-England Badminton Championships
- Won the second-ever International Badminton Federation World Championship in his first season as a professional player (1980)
- Champion at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, where badminton was a demonstration sport.
- Four Thomas Cup gold medals (1970, 1973, 1976, 1979)
Rudy Hartono is another famous Indonesian badminton player, with his legendary career trailing only that of Taufik Hiyadat in the scope of the Indonesian badminton scene. Despite his playing career taking place several decades ago, in the 1960s and 1970s, he has still been viewed as one of the greatest athletes of all time, thanks in part to his tremendous speed, which allowed him to track down shots that appeared entirely out of reach.
5. Morten Frost
- Ranked top three in the world for 12 consecutive years
- Named champion at least once for every international badminton tournament (except for the World Badminton Championships)
- Four-time winner of the All-England Badminton Championship Open during a five-year span (1982, 1984, 1986, 1987)
- Became just the fourth player to become inducted into Europe’s Badminton Hall of Fame in 2016
- Went an astonishing five years without being defeated by a European player
For years, it seemed all Morten Frost knew how to do was win major championships. His tendency to excel under the spotlight earned him the nickname “Mr. Badminton” from the media. Nonetheless, he is often labeled the world’s greatest badminton player that was never a world champion because he failed to emerge victorious at any of the World Badminton Championships. Had Frost been able to add that to his already impressive resume of tournament victories, he would likely be in the top three of these all-time player rankings.
- Ranked number one badminton player in the world from 1998-2001
- Represented Denmark in four straight Olympic Games from 2000-2012
- BWF World Championships silver medalist (2001) and four-time bronze medalist (1999, 2005, 2010, 2011)
- 13-time European Championships gold medalist (5x men’s singles, 5x mixed team, 3x men’s team)
- Two-time Thomas Cup silver medal winner (2004, 2006) and three-time bronze medal winner (2001, 2003, 2005)
Born in Denmark, Peter Gade is a world-renowned, retired men’s badminton player. Before his retirement in 2012, Gade recorded an impressive record of 517 wins and 155 losses. His success in the European Championships was unmatched, winning a total of five gold medals in men’s singles, five gold medals in mixed team, and three gold medals in men’s team. Gade was known for his creative playstyle, fast attacks, and deceptive shots that always kept opponents on edge. He represented Denmark in the Olympics Games four consecutive times in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012, although he never brought home a medal.
- Olympic gold medalist (Tokyo 2020) and bronze medalist (Rio 2016) in men’s singles
- BWF World Championships gold medal winner (2017, 2022) and bronze medal winner (2014)
- European Championships eleven-time gold medalist (2x men’s singles, 4x mixed team, 5x men’s team)
- Thomas Cup gold medalist (2016) and bronze medalist (2012, 2018, 2020, 2022)
Viktor Axelsen is an up-and-coming men’s badminton player hailing from Denmark. Axelsen is a right-handed player who specializes in the men’s singles discipline of badminton and has put Denmark on the map in the realm of badminton competition. In fact, Axelsen’s gold medal finish in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was just the second time in Olympic history that Denmark has earned a gold medal in Badminton. This feat had previously not been accomplished since Poul-Erik Høyer Larsen secured the gold medal for men’s singles in the 1996 Olympics. Viktor Axelsen appears to be en route to a sterling badminton career and will surely put the rest of the world on notice in future Olympic competition.
- Two-time World Championship gold medalist
- Three-time Olympic medalist (1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze)
- Three-time Thomas Cup gold medalist
Chen Long is one of the most well-rounded badminton players in terms of wins, taking home the gold medal at the Asian Games, World Championships, and the Olympics. He has been a talented badminton player his whole life, first competing for the Chinese National Youth Badminton squad in 2005. Since then, he has taken home several gold medals in badminton’s most prestigious events.
In singles competition, he has won two World Championship gold medals (2014, 2015), one Asian Championship gold medal in 2017, and one Olympic gold in 2016. In team events, he has won five Sudirman Cup gold medals (2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2019), three Thomas Cup gold medals (2010, 2012, 2018), and two Asian Games gold medals (2010, 2018).
- Two-time World Championship gold medalist
- Two-time Asian Championship gold medalist
- Seven-time BWF International Series gold medalist
Kento Momota is the greatest men’s badminton player to originate from Japan. Since entering the professional circuit in 2014, the left-handed legend has seen massive success at international tournaments. Though his first major wins were at the junior level or at the 2014 Thomas Cup in New Delhi, Momota’s greatest years came in 2018 and 2019.
In 2018 and 2019, Momota consecutively won the men’s singles tournaments at the Asian Championships and the World Championships. For the 2019 season, he even broke the Guinness record for most badminton men’s singles titles in a season. Still an active competitor, Momota likely has even more wins ahead of him.
Who are the best badminton players of all time?
The best badminton players of all time are Lin Dan and Gao Ling. Lin Dan has dominated on the world stage and is widely considered to be one of the best of all time. By the time he was 28, he had won all nine major badminton tournaments in the world. Lin Dan also has won two Olympic gold medals. Gao Ling is also a great badminton player from China and is regarded as one of the best female players to ever play the sport. She won a record four Olympic medals in doubles, two of which were gold.
Who holds the record for the most men’s World Badminton Championship titles?
The record for the most men’s World Badminton Championship titles is shared by Chinese player Lin Dan and South Korean player Park Joo Bong, each with five total victories. Lin Dan’s career featured an unparalleled level of dominance in the men’s singles category, with all five of his titles coming within this category. Meanwhile, Park Joo Bong earned titles in two different categories: men’s doubles and mixed doubles. Park’s title count at the time of his retirement consisted of two titles in the men’s doubles event and three titles in the mixed doubles event.
What men’s badminton player holds the record for the most Olympic Medals?
The all-time record for total Olympic medals in men’s badminton is shared by three players: Fu Haifeng, Zhang Nan, and Kim Dong Moon. Of these three, Fu holds the best collection of medals, with two gold medals (earned in 2012 and 2016) and a silver medal in men’s doubles (earned in 2008). Zhang and Kim each hold two gold medals and a bronze medal. Nan earned gold in 2012 (mixed doubles) and 2016 (men’s doubles) to go along with a bronze medal also earned in 2016. Kim meanwhile earned gold in 1996 (mixed doubles) and 2004 (men’s doubles), with a bronze medal added in 2000 (men’s doubles).
What men’s badminton players won gold medals in the 2020 Olympics?
The Olympic gold medal winners in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were Wang Yi Lyu (China), Lee Yang (Chinese Taipei), Wang Chi-Lin (Chinese Taipei), and Viktor Axelsen (Denmark). Wang Yi Lyu earned Olympic gold for China in mixed doubles, Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin were the gold medalist doubles team in representation of Chinese Taipei, and Viktor Axelsen took the title in men’s singles for Denmark. Each of these players demonstrated dominance within the sport, and, in the case of Viktor Axelsen, we may be witnessing the rise of a new force in the sport of badminton.