Taufik Hidayat Laments Grim Future of Indonesian Badminton
Wuhan. Indonesia urgently need quality young shuttlers to replace their ageing stars, former Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat said Thursday, after his country’s early exit from the Thomas and Uber Cups.
“My team is not strong. It [Indonesian badminton] is going down, but I hope when I retire it will go up,” said the 30-year-old, who will play in his last Olympics at the London Games in July.
Indonesian shuttlers have won at least one gold in each Summer Games since 1992, when the sport became an Olympic event.
But the prospects for more Olympic glory this summer took a big hit when they exited the Thomas and Uber Cups at the quarter-final stages in Wuhan.
Indonesia’s badminton chiefs attempted to play down fears of an Olympic flop after their men failed to reach the Thomas Cup semi-finals for the first time.
“We are concerned because it was our first loss to Japan at the Thomas Cup and our first quarter-final loss at the tournament too,” Indonesian doubles coordinator Christian Hadinata told AFP.
“We’ll continue practicing for the Olympics. Our goal is to keep up our tradition of winning at least one gold medal,” he said, adding that nine players had qualified for London.
Mochamad Feriansyah — team manager for the Thomas Cup, an all-male event, and the concurrent women’s Uber Cup — said the disappointing showing in China had no bearing on their Olympic aspirations.
“This loss was a team loss, but the Olympics is an individual event, so certain athletes that played well here have a good chance of winning,” he said.
China’s head coach Li Yongbo also stressed the difference between the team and individual competitions when asked about the possible decline of traditionally strong badminton nations such as Indonesia and Malaysia.
“You cannot judge just by one tournament. Indonesia still have very strong individual players,” Li said, citing Hidayat, Simon Santoso and also reigning Olympics men’s doubles champions Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan.
“Great individual players are not necessarily good team players,” he said in Wuhan after his Chinese women’s team qualified for the Uber Cup final.
Hidayat, who won gold in Athens in 2004, is edging closer to retirement and said it was normal for young people to beat him now.
“If I lose to an Indonesian youngster I am happy, but I am not happy to lose to a Japanese youngster,” he said after 22-year-old shuttler Kenichi Tago beat him in the quarter-final against Japan.
Indonesia’s poor showing could in part come down to “not sending often young players to big tournaments, preferring in the short term to send Hidayat or Santoso,” said chief editor of Badzine.net, Raphael Sachetat.
“Indonesia have good players but they have too little experience in international competitions.”
Hidayat said he hoped the coaching at an arena that bears his name in Indonesia would “reap results in five or ten years.”
He said for him “badminton is everything” and he wanted to put something back into the sport.
In the women’s Uber Cup quarter-finals the Indonesians also went out against Japan.