By Ami Afriatni
Jakarta: The Indonesian Badminton Association, or PBSI, fears running out of shuttlers for the 2020 Olympic Games, specifically in the men and women’s singles competitions, an official revealed.
The national governing badminton body last week announced plans to recruit badminton players under the age of 20.
“I have to admit, it’s been easier regenerating the doubles teams. With Tommy [Sugiarto] pulled out of the national training camp, Simon Santoso is the only senior shuttler left for the men’s singles side. The [other players] are not yet at his level,” said Rexy Mainaky, PBSI head of athletes development.
The federation, Rexy added, has recruited five young shuttlers from four different clubs to join seven players currently in training at the national camp.
The newcomers include Krisna Adi Nugraha (Jaya Raya Jakarta), Redy Perdana (SGS PLN Bandung), Reksy Aureza Megananda (Djarum Kudus), Panji Akbar Maulana and Enzi Shafira (Mutiara Cardinal Bandung).
These athletes will further fine-tune their skills alongside Jonatan Christie, Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, Firman Abdul Kholik, Ihsan Maulana Mustofa, Muhammad Bayu Pangisthu, and Riyanto Subagja.
For the women’s singles side, PBSI called on the talents of Priskila Siahaya (Exist Jakarta) to join six others, namely Linda Wenifanetri, Bellaetrix Manuputty, Hanna Ramadhini, Dinar Dyah Ayustine, Gregoria Mariska and Fitriani.
The PBSI also brought in Shela Devi Aulia to replace Annisa Saufika who tore her right knee ligament during last month’s Djarum Superliga tournament in Bali.
Annisa was injured while playing for USM Blibli with women’s doubles partner Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja against defending champion Jaya Raya Jakarta.
“It was such a pity because she is now ranked number 20 in the world along with mixed doubles partner Alfian [Eko Prasetya]. She could have done better to qualify for the 2016 Olympics if she had not been injured,” Rexy said.
Annisa has undergone surgery and now faces six months of recovery. In addition to recruiting new players, the national badminton association has opened its training camp to young shuttlers with a three-month internship program.
Rexy’s niece, Lyanny Alessandra Mainaky of Putra Mainaky club, is among the lucky batch of up-and-coming athletes.
“They have met the requirements. They may be interns, but they still have the opportunity to join the training camp as a professional athlete,” Rexy said. “If they show promise and if our talent scouts believe they have what it takes to join the national team, we will recruit them.