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Liem Swie King (Chinese: 林水鏡; pinyin: Lín Shuǐjìng, born 28 February 1956 in Kudus) is a former Indonesian badminton player who excelled from the late 1970s through the mid-1980s. He won the All England in 1978, 1979 and 1981. Along with Morten Frost (Denmark), Han Jian and Luan Jin (China), and Prakash Padukone (India), he was one of the world's leading singles players of that era. A world level player in men's doubles as well as men's singles, he was known for the ferocity of his jumping smash.[1]

Liem Swie King
Personal information
Country Indonesia
Born (1956-02-28) 28 February 1956 (age 63)
Kudus, Central Java
Height1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)
Years active1974-1988
Men's singles and men's doubles
Highest ranking1


Early lifeEdit

Liem was born on 28 February 1956 in Kudus, Central Java.[2] His parents were Ng Thian Poo and Oei See Moi from Fujian. He was the only son of eight children. During elementary school, he studied at Sekolah Tionghoa, and later moved to SD Negeri Dema'an II in 1965.[3] In 1974, he chose a name suggested by his older sister, Guntur (meaning: thunder), in order to comply with government direction for any Indonesian with Chinese name to adopt what is considered as an "Indonesian name"[4], however it did not affect how people addressed him in public or in competition. His physical trainer, Tahir Djide, said, "It is easier to pronounce King, rather than Guntur".[4]


While watching a local badminton competition, Budi Hartono, the owner of a prestigious badminton club, Djarum Badminton Club, recognized Liem's talent at the age of 14. Despite the loss he took in the final match, Liem was invited to join the club[5]. With a proper coaching, it did not take long for the teenage Liem to start overwhelming opponents with his fast-paced style in various local youth badminton tournaments.

In 1972 at the age of 15, Liem became the junior single champion of Central Java. In November 1972, he tasted his first international tournament, the First Djakarta Badminton Open Tournament, defeating Singapore's Ng Choi Yu in the first stage, before succumbed to Thailand's Sangob Ratananusorn. Later, he won Moenadi Cup, in single and men's double categories, pairing with his childhood friend, Hariamanto Kartono[6]. For his achievement, Liem's high school exempted him from paying tuition fee.

In 1973, Liem was called to join the provincial badminton squad for National Sports Event (Pekan Olahraga Nasional) VIII. He reached the men's single final by winning against senior players along the way, before defeated by an established national squad member, Iie Sumirat. In the same year, he won a local tournament, Kejuaraan Dunia Bulu Tangkis Piala Garuda (Garuda Cup Badminton World Championship) in Tegal.[7]

While still in the high school, in early 1974, Liem won the national championship. In the same year he participated in All England for the first time. From that, Liem won the prestigious All-England Men's Singles Championships in 1978, 1979 and 1981 during a six-consecutive-year run to the finals (1976–1981) of what was then perhaps the world's most prestigious badminton tournament. He was the runner-up at the then triennial World Championships in both 1980 and 1983 to fellow Indonesians Rudy Hartono and Icuk Sugiarto respectively. He was a member of the Thomas Cup winning Indonesian teams of 1976, 1979, and 1984, playing both singles and doubles on the latter two occasions.[8] He also played in the Thomas Cup in the years 1982 and 1986. He was a bronze medalist in the men's doubles together with Kartono at the 1985 IBF World Championships in Calgary.

He retired from badminton in 1988, and now owns a health spa in Jakarta.

"King Smash"Edit

Liem's is well known for his iconic jumping smash, which has been recognized as the most aggressive type of offensive strokes in badminton, mostly executed by pro male athletes. Although some players were claimed to originate the move, Liem was widely accepted as the man who popularized the jumping smash. Different than most pro players before him who used hopping leg action to compensate the lateral gap to reach the shuttlecock, Liem effectively used higher vertical leap in executing his smash.

Liem's vertical leap explosiveness came from his firm crouching stance before launching his jump, he then intercepted the shuttlecock at high altitude with a ferocious whipping strike, or sometimes a deceptive drop shot which immobilized his opponent who was expecting a slamming hit from him. By intercepting the shuttlecock at higher altitude, Liem was able to deliver a shot with steeper angle. Liem is an average height player for a badminton athlete, which to his benefit, making his jump smash even more dramatic from the spectators' perspective, since he created a big gap between his body and the court floor while performing his jumping-smash.

As his popularity increased, badminton enthusiasts around the world began to associate the kind of violent jumping smash with Liem, earning him a nickname, King Smash. Liem's move was considered modern during his era, but now it has become a standard attacking skill for badminton pros.

Racket known to have been used by Liem is Carbonex 15.[1]

Personal lifeEdit

King met his wife Lucia Alamsah in 1976 and they had three children, Alexander, Stephanie and Michelle. King's life and achievements were the inspiration for the 2009 Indonesian movie "King" (2009) in which he made a cameo appearance. That same year, Robert Adhi Kusumaputra published a biography on the Indonesia legend, titled "Call Me, King" (Panggil Aku, King).


Titles (13)Edit

Year Tournament Opponent in final Score
1975 World Invitation   Flemming Delfs
1977 Swedish Open   Flemming Delfs 15-4, 15-8
1977 Sea Games   Dhany Sartika
1978 All England   Rudy Hartono 15-10, 15-3
1978 Asian Games   Han Jian
1979 World Cup   Lie Sumirat 15-8, 15-8
1979 All England (2)   Flemming Delfs 15-7, 15-8
1980 English Masters   Rudy Hartono 15-11, 15-3
1981 All England (3)   Prakash Padukone 11-15, 15-4, 15-6
1981 Sea Games (2)   Hastomo Arbi
1982 World Cup (2)   Misbun Sidek 15-12, 3-15, 15-12
1983 Malaysia Open   Hastomo Arbi 15-11, 15-1
1983 Indonesia Open   Hastomo Arbi 15-6, 15-1

Runners-up (10)Edit

Year Tournament Opponent in final Score
1976 All England   Rudy Hartono 7-15, 7-15
1976 Asian Championships   Hou Jiachang
1977 All England (2)   Flemming Delfs 17-15, 11-15, 8-15
1980 All England (3)   Prakash Padukone 3-15, 10-15
1980 World Championships   Rudy Hartono 9-15, 9-15
1982 Asian Games   Han Jian
1983 World Championships (2)   Icuk Sugiarto 8-15, 15-12, 16-17
1984 All England (4)   Morten Frost 15-9, 10-15, 10-15
1984 Japan Open   Morten Frost 1-15, 15-18
1984 World Grand Prix Finals   Morten Frost 5-15, 4-15


Liem was inducted into the Badminton Hall of Fame in 2002.[8]


  1. ^ The King Smash on YouTube
  2. ^ Ksp 2009, p. 17
  3. ^ Ksp 2009, pp. 15–16
  4. ^ a b Ksp 2009, p. 21
  5. ^ "Liem Swie King | BWF Virtual Museum". (in Russian). Retrieved 2017-09-28.
  6. ^ Ksp 2009, p. 33
  7. ^ Ksp 2009, pp. 34–36
  8. ^ a b Setyautama & Mihardja 2008, p. 214