Tommy Embraces His Legacy

World’s number five shuttler Tommy Sugiarto hopes to repeat his father’s 1983 victory in Copenhagen. (Photo courtesy of PBSI)

World’s number five shuttler Tommy Sugiarto hopes to repeat his father’s 1983 victory in Copenhagen. (Photo courtesy of PBSI)

Icuk Sugiarto came to Copenhagen in 1983 to continue Indonesia’s badminton glory on the world stage, a task he achieved with flying colors by defeating fellow national shuttler and six-time All England champion Liem Swie King to secure the World Championship title.

Icuk’s victory marked the peak of the golden era of Indonesian men’s singles badminton. Nearly 31 years later, Tommy Sugiarto arrives in Copenhagen hoping to repeat his father’s historic feat.

After fellow shuttler Simon Santoso withdrew from this year’s World Championships due to dengue fever days before the team left for the Danish capital, Tommy became the team’s only chance at victory.

“It is my very first time playing in Copenhagen. I feel so excited to know that my father clinched his World Champion title here in this city,” the world number five told badmintonindonesia.org during his training session at Ballerup Super Arena in Copenhagen on Saturday.

“My father has been praying for me to receive the same fortune and blessings here as he did 31 years ago. I’m in high spirits; blessings from my parents are what I need right now.”

Competing in Europe, he added, needs extra preparation and training.

“The cool weather requires players from tropical countries to warm up thoroughly. Then I have to adjust myself with the time difference and local foods,” the 2013 Superseries Finals runner-up said.

In last year’s World Championships in Guangzhou, Tommy lost in the quarterfinals to Malaysian ace Lee Chong Wei. Lee eventually progressed to the final, only to lose to longtime foe and defending champion Lin Dan of China, playing in front of a home crowd.

Tommy will start his quest at this year’s championships facing Singapore’s Derek Wong Zi Liang. His 4-0 record over Wong should give him a boost in confidence. Should Tommy pass through the opener, the second round will see him  take on either Russia’s Vladimir Malkov or Ukraine’s Dmytro Zavadsky.

Veteran Hong Kong shuttler Hu Yun will likely pose the only serious challenge to Tommy should he reach the third round, following Hu’s promising progress in the past few months, including the Japan Open Superseries final in June where he lost to Lee. Tommy and Hu have met twice before, taking one game each.

If Tommy is able to ease past Hu, Japan’s number one shuttler, Kenichi Tago, might be his opponent in the quarterfinals.

Tommy holds a 3-1 head-to-head record against the world number four. Though second-seeded Chen Long of China or Germany’s number one Marc Zwiebler, ranked 26th in the world, could be tough potential semifinal opponents, the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) says it believes Tommy “has the chance to at least reach the final.”

“He has to play at his best,” said Rexy Mainaky, the PBSI’s athlete development chief.