The results from the Super Series Finals demonstrate just how low Indonesian badminton has fallen on the world stage.
None of the country’s shuttlers made it out of the group stage and into today’s semifinals. The country’s last hope, mixed doubles pair Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir, lost to top-seeded Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei on Friday, 21-19, 18-21, 21-14. They wound up finishing third in Group A.
Only the top two from each group advanced to the last four rounds of the $500,000 tournament in Liuzhou, China.
Men’s singles shuttler Taufik Hidayat crashed out of the tournament after losing all three of his matches in Group B. On Friday he ended the round-robin stage by falling 21-13, 21-7 to Chen Long.
Simon Santoso also lost, 21-19, 23-21 to Sho Sasaki of Japan, and ended his Group A campaign with a 0-3 record.
Mohammad Ahsan and Bona Septano secured their first win in men’s doubles Group B, edging Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong of Malaysia 19-21, 21-19, 21-14. That, however, wasn’t enough to send them into the semifinals after they lost their first two matches in the group.
The fact that only two men’s singles, one men’s doubles pair and one mixed doubles pair qualified for the season-ending event, which features the top eight players in each division, shows how badly the country’s badminton needs some fresh blood.
The rankings were determined by the results of 12 Super Series events, badminton’s top-notch competition, through the year, which also reflects the players’ status in the Badminton World Federation’s rankings.
Tontowi and Liliyana were the only Indonesians with titles this season after winning back-to-back Super Series in India in May and Singapore in June.
The past three years have been hard on the country’s shuttlers, who finished with 10 Super Series titles in 2008. They managed half that many the following year, but in 2010 won only two.
And no Indonesian shuttler has won the World Championships since 2007, when Liliyana and Nova Widianto took the mixed doubles crown and Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan won the men’s doubles title.
The slide in results is also of concern as it could keep Indonesian players out of next year’s London Olympics, something the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) hopes to avoid.
To automatically qualify for the Olympics, singles players must be in the top 16 in the BWF ranking as of May 3, 2012, while the doubles have to be in the top eight.
However, the PBSI head of athlete development, Hadi Nazri, remained optimistic that more athletes would qualify for the Olympics.
“They are still more than 10 tournaments to go before May 3. We hope that our younger shuttlers can spring some surprises,” he said.
Indonesia earned its first Olympic gold medal in badminton when it became a full Olympic sport in 1992. Since then the country’s players have produced a gold in every Games, the last one from men’s doubles team Markis and Hendra in Beijing back in 2008.