Sports

National shuttlers urged
to shape up

Daunting tasks await the new Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) executives at the All England Championships, the Sudirman Cup, the World Championships and the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games).

This year marked a slump in Indonesia’s badminton, with the Olympic contingent failing for the first time since 1992 to win a gold medal. The team came home empty handed.

To add to their Olympic woes in London, Indonesian women’s doubles pair Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii were ejected from the tournament in disgrace.

The Indonesian pair, as well as world doubles champions Wang Xiaoli-Yu Yang of China and their South Korean opponents Jung Kyuneun-Kim Ha-na and South Korea’s Ha Jung-eun-Kim Min-jung were disqualified by the Olympic committee on July 31 for “not using one’s best efforts to win a match” and “conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport”.

Meiliana and Greysia, as well as their coach Paulus Firman, were issued a four-month ban for their actions before their ban was reduced to two and a half months soon after newly elected PBSI chairman Gita Wiryawan was inaugurated in October.

The disqualification was the lowest point in Indonesia’s badminton history since the sport was fi rst included in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, a year that saw Indonesian shuttlers win two gold medals.

China began to dent Indonesia’s badminton domination at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, by winning four out of five gold medals on offer, leaving Indonesia with the only remaining honor, courtesy of the men’s doubles pair Candra Wijaya– Tony Gunawan.

Taufik Hidayat preserved the gold tradition with his stellar performance at Athens 2004. So did doubles pair Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan in Beijing in 2008.

Indonesian shuttlers also fell by the wayside in Super Series, one of the premier badminton events on the Badminton World Federation calendar.

Even when the tournament was held at home, the players fell short. In the June Djarum Indonesia Open super series, Indonesia secured only one title through men’s singles shuttler Simon Santoso.

In the Denmark Open super series in October, Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir were the only Indonesians to reach the fi nal, where they came off second best against Xu Chen and Ma Jin of China.

The badminton association has urged the players to excel at four tournaments to come: The All- England Championships on March 5-10 in Birmingham, England; the Sudirman Cup on May 19-26 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; the World Championships on Aug. 4-11 in Guangzhou, China; and the SEA Games in December in Myanmar.

“I think our probability of winning the SEA Games is higher than winning the three others,” PBSI chairman Gita Wirjawan told a press conference at the association’s headquarters in Cipayung, East Jakarta, on Friday.

“Meanwhile, our probability of winning the Sudirman Cup, to be frank, is less than 50 percent,” he said.

Indonesia won the Sudirman Cup, the biennial mixed team tournament named after the founder of the PBSI and former Indonesian shuttler, in 1989, which appears to have been the first and last laurel for Indonesia to date.

In the following editions, Indonesia has had to be content with runner-up six times before crashing out in the semifinals at the latest tournament in 2011.

In the World Championships, Indonesia last won in 2007, with two titles each in the men’s doubles and the mixed doubles.In the biennial SEA Games in 2011 in Jakarta, Indonesia managed to clinch fi ve gold medals out of seven on offer.

The recruitment of Rexy Mainaky, Atlanta 2006 gold medalist with doubles partner Ricky Subagja, gives hope that Indonesia can bounce back from its poor performances.

The challenge ahead may well  prove trickier than before, as threats now emanate not only from countries with badminton traditions like Malaysia, Korea, Denmark and China, but also from second-tier countries like Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong.

Paper Edition | Page: 8

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