Shuttlers should cherish their victory, get back to work


Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Kuala Lumpur

Indonesia's surprise winning of two titles and second-place spot in the just-concluded World Badminton Championships is worth celebrating, given the year-long title drought for national shuttlers.

Congratulations to mixed doubles Nova Widianto and Lilyana Natsir, men's doubles Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan, men's singles Sony Dwi Kuncoro and the rest of national shuttlers for their fighting spirit.

The wins were precious yet consoling gifts for Indonesia, where 16 percent of its 220 million people struggle with poverty.

It was a sweet victory, denying badminton powerhouse China the chance of a clean sweep. China took three titles with men's singles Lin Dan, women's singles Zhu Lin and women's doubles Yang Wei and Zhang Jiewen.

While China is planning a clean sweep at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, two crowns for Indonesia showed that success is still within our reach.

There was something missing though, with all the European shuttlers crashing in the early rounds, leaving no spots for them past the semifinals.

But our celebrations should be over soon.

Bigger duties await the shuttlers, including winning gold medals at the Southeast Asian Games in Thailand in December, winning back the Thomas and Uber Cups on home soil next year and retaining our gold medal at the Olympics.

Indonesia must learn from neighbor Malaysia.

With men's singles world No. 3 Lee Chong Wei and men's doubles world No. 2 Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong, Malaysia had high hopes of ending its 30-year title-less run at the worlds.

But the dream was shattered even before the final.

Local newspapers wrote "Malaysia dreams, Indonesia delivers".

Others highlights included a furious coach Rexy Mainaky of Indonesia, now in charge of the Malaysian doubles, hammering his players for their glaring lack of discipline and complacency and accusing them of acting like "prima donnas" after winning most of the year's tournaments.

The championships also saw the emergence of young stars from India, Japan and Singapore, who managed to shock the big names in the early rounds.

Too bad that Indonesian ace Taufik Hidayat was the first to suffer a shocking defeat, crashing out to world No. 4 Anup Sridhar of India in the second round.

Malaysia's women's singles player Wong Mee Chow was the surprise winner in her encounter with defending champion and world No. 2 Xie Xinfang of China.

Japanese Shuichi Sakamoto and Shintaro Ikeda created a major upset by humiliating men's doubles favorites Koo and Tan before their home crowd.

Despite his defeat to eventual winner Lin, Sony showed good signs of getting out of Taufik's shadow. His road to the final was marked with triumphs over Lee, Peter Gade of Denmark and Chinese Chen Yu.

But the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) must start preparing the next generation to fill the seniors' shoes.

We are already lagging in grooming our juniors compared to other countries.

It is not about creating winners for one or two years. It is about the future of our badminton achievements at the international level.

It will need a long-term strategy and commitment to prioritize the juniors, especially by fielding them in international events more often. Talent scouting is also another issue to be immediately addressed by the PBSI.

Given that situation, there is no reason for us to be complacent after our recent wins. We must get over them soon, for there is a lot of work to be done.

With such a mindset, we hope we can befriend growth, a conditio sine quo non, or strong ground where success can sprout.


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