Barry Davies' Olympic Moments: Susi Susanti at Barcelona '92

In a 10-part series, BBC broadcaster Barry Davies recalls the most memorable Olympic moments of his 44 years on air from the Games.

This moment gave us the first gold medal for a sport and the first gold medal for a big, big nation in the shape of Indonesia.

'You don't get a second chance'

I don't think people always realise that there is a huge difference between being a presenter or an interviewer, much as I enjoy those roles, and being a commentator. Particularly if you are live: you do not get a second chance.

With football, I'll say what I like. But there are other sports, where I'm not so comfortable, where I will ease off or put a point to the person I'm working with. I am presenting the sport, as a commentator, and I've always told the experts next to me that if I say something they think is nonsense or they heartily disagree, they should say so. I don't want to portray their sport in the wrong way.

No two sports are the same: ice hockey and hockey do not belong to football, you may score goals in all three but each has its own qualities and demands.

With every sport I have covered - and it goes well into double figures at the Olympic Games - I have tried to treat them all as an entity.

Badminton was introduced to the Olympic Games at Barcelona 1992 and, having come over from the gymnastics for the women's singles final, I had very little time to warm up.

Sitting next to me was Craig Reedie, my co-commentator that day and a man who had played a huge role in getting badminton into the Games.

I had no badminton qualifications. I had played a little, like most people I suppose, but never for a club or in any competition. An interview in 1978 with Gillian Gilks, who was then the world number one, had earned me a trip to cover badminton at that year's Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, and I found myself doing the commentary from then on.

But in Craig I had an expert alongside me, a former badminton association president and now one of our representatives on the International Olympic Committee.

By the time I sat down, he was already around 30% hyper. He wanted badminton's debut to be successful and in front of us we had a brilliant player, the 5ft 3in Indonesian star Susi Susanti, who looked to be on her way to a great victory.


  • A series of up 20,000 islands between the Philippines and Australia
  • Natives speak anywhere up to 400 languages
  • There are 129 active volcanoes in the region
  • It is the world's fourth-most populous country, with 240 million inhabitants

As the match went on, his excitement grew and grew. I wanted him to remove himself from the passion to a degree and tell us more about why Susanti was beating her Korean opponent.

Craig has since claimed that I slipped him a piece of paper with the phrase, "Tactics, you [bleep]!" written on it. I don't recall adding that last word, but I do recall suggesting that he could do with not being quite so emotionally involved.

In the end, though, I became as involved as him. Everybody did. Susanti won Indonesia's first-ever Olympic gold medal and that moment produced such a reaction, both inside the venue and in Indonesia.

What happened next

  • Susi Susanti continued to win major titles until her retirement in 1998 before the birth of her daughter
  • Susanti now has three children and, in 2004, started a sports equipment business alongside Budikusuma

The following day her then-boyfriend, Alan Budikusuma, won the men's singles title. What a double, the first two gold medals for their country and their sport. A million people turned out to welcome them home when they went back to Jakarta together. That is how much it meant.

The atmosphere in the hall is what sticks with me. Well before the match was over, the crowd could see that she was going to win. The lid was off the kettle way, way before it boiled. And the reaction ... this is a sport that's competitive in Britain but you would never see scenes like that.

That is something one should remember at an Olympic Games: each country has its own top sports. For Indonesia, badminton was definitely that.