※The article has been published in Toyota Global Newsroom on September 19, 2019.
For as long as Marcus Fernaldi Gideon can remember, badminton has always been a huge part of his life. As a young child, he grew up watching his father, former national badminton legend and coach Kurniahu Gideon, train and compete internationally. At nine years old, Marcus began his career in badminton and by thirteen, had begun to compete professionally.
“I chose badminton because my dad used to be a badminton player,” he says, acknowledging the tremendous influence his father has had on his career and particularly since he formally took over as his coach when Marcus was seven years old. “He’s been a very good, supportive coach. He always brought me to the court when I was young, and he motivated me to start playing.”
Under his father’s mentorship, Marcus continued to pursue badminton competitively, winning multiple competitions as a singles player before deciding to try out doubles in 2011.
It was a good move – in the same year, Marcus clinched his first doubles title in the Singapore International Series and - through passion and sheer hard work – he claimed an impressive tally of medals shortly thereafter, including gold and silver in doubles at the 2015 Southeast Asian Games, the doubles championship at the 2017 All England Open Super Series Premier, and most recently, doubles gold at the 2018 Badminton Asia Team Championships. Marcus and his partner, Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, are currently ranked #1 in the BWF world ranking for men’s doubles. “I love the thrill I get from chasing the shuttlecock and doing the smash,” he says, adding that he always strives to be the best version of himself, both on and off the court.
His next challenge, he shares excitedly, is to win the World Championship this year and the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 title, in the next. He hopes to do so with his current doubles partner, Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, with whom he has been training alongside for close to four years: “I think we make a great pair because we have the same goals. We understand our role on the court and we’re always ready to back up whenever one of us is failing.”
He acknowledges the fight will not be an easy one, but he is determined that stiff competition and daunting opponents will not prevent him from realizing his dreams. “People have said in the past it’s impossible for me to achieve my dream of becoming the best badminton player. But they can only say it’s impossible until I do it.”
Off the Court: Still Challenging the Impossible
When he’s not training or winning medals, Marcus loves watching horror movies or satisfying his wanderlust. He enjoys exploring his homeland Indonesia, and has Ora Beach, an isolated paradise in Ambon, Indonesia’s beautiful Maluku province, on his travel to-do list. And if he were not a professional badminton player, he’d pursue a career in the automotive industry, he chuckles, “because I really like cars.”
Beyond his personal interests, Marcus also hopes to leverage on his success in badminton to raise awareness of a cause close to his heart: road safety in Indonesia. While he’s played on some of the highest-quality surfaces in the world, the streets in his hometown of Jakarta are a different story – road hazards and driver behavior are just some of the issues he hopes to help improve through his most recent partnership with Toyota.
He is one of twelve athletes chosen by the brand to champion Start Your Impossible, an initiative supporting the creation of a more sustainable, inclusive and mobile society for all. Everyone should have equal access to mobility, he says, “to feel free to move wherever they want.”
He acknowledges it’s not something that’s easy to achieve, but is committed to trying his best. On his partnership with Toyota, he quips: “It’s a great initiative. It encourages people to start what most people think is impossible - to make it possible.”