Indonesia’s failure to win any titles at the recent world championships in Hyderabad, India, in stark contrast to the Chinese squad’s formidable performance, has rung an alarm bell about more poor showings still to come.
Taufik Hidayat and the team returned home empty-handed, while China took four of the five titles up for grabs – three of them in all-Chinese finals. Denmark took one title to prevent the whitewash.
Taufik, who quit the national training camp in January to play independently, already looks a shadow of his winning self in 2005.
Sony Dwi Kuncoro chalked up a shock defeat over world No. 1 and top seed Lee Chong Wei, but at the end was not good enough.
Nova Widianto and Liliyana Natsir, coming to Hyderabad as the defending mixed doubles champions, slugged their way to the final only to be stopped by the underdog Danes.
Despite the debacle, the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) remains upbeat.
"The final results should not be the only factor in assessing the team’s performance," Christian Hadinata, the PBSI official in charge of athlete training, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
"We must consider how they played and how they were beaten.
"Sony beat Chong Wei and forced Lin Dan to three games. Nova and Liliyana managed to make it to the finals. That means the players are still competitive," said Christian, who won the mixed doubles title in 1985 with Ivana Lie.
"They did better than the world No. 1 and Olympic champions," he added, referring to Lee Yong-dae and Lee Hyo-jung of South Korea.
The Hyderabad rout, a repeat of the 2006 world championships, capped a pathetic run this year in Badminton World Federation (BWF)-sanctioned Super Series by Indonesian shuttlers, starting with the Malaysia Super Series.
Indonesian shuttlers only clinched one title from the possible 30 from the first six Super Series, courtesy of Nova and Liliyana in Kuala Lumpur.
Another seven Super Series, including the season-ending Grand Final, awaits the world’s best shuttlers, and the prospects for Indonesia remain bleak, even in the next two or three years, said Christian, lamenting about the lack of young shuttlers to take over from the veterans.
With Taufik’s days numbered, the men’s singles only has Sony and Simon Santoso to be relied on. No reliable replacement exists for Nova and Liliyana.
The world No. 1 men’s doubles pair Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan is sidelined by injury, leaving that competition beyond Indonesia’s reach. The resignation of Vita Marissa, who formed a strong partnership with Liliyana in the women’s doubles, has also not been filled in.
Maria Kristin Yulianti stands alone in the women’s singles, though still to claim a world honor to add to her 2008 Olympic bronze.
The next challenge is the China Masters Super Series in September, and Christian’s assessment was not promising: "Winning one title is still possible."