Taufik Hidayat isn’t done with badminton — he’s just done doing it Indonesia’s way.
After 12 years in the Indonesian Badminton Association, or PSBI, national training camp, the 27-year-old officially announced his withdrawal on Friday. Though he left the camp, he still plans to pursue a professional career.
“I’ll still play as an Indonesian player, though not under the national team banner anymore,” Taufik said at a press conference. “I will never play for another country.”
He said that he’d been thinking about quitting the national camp since 2004 and shrugged off the rumor that it was because the PBSI didn’t pick his longtime coach, Mulyo Handoyo, as one of the camp’s coaches this year.
“What happened to coach Mulyo is not the main reason why I left the national training camp,” the Athens Olympic gold medalist said. “I’ve been thinking this over and over again since I got the Olympic gold medal, until I came to the conclusion to leave.”
Now free from the camp, Taufik plans to continue his relationship with Mulyo.
“It’s true that I can’t replace him [Mulyo]. He really understands me. He knows what I want and what I like. He’s like my father and my best friend, besides my coach,” he said. “But that’s not the main reason behind this.”
The men’s singles shuttler also said he would still be at the ready if his country needed him.
In addition to Mulyo, Taufik will also have a management team at the ready to address his needs, including trying to maintain his sponsorship deal with apparel company Yonex.
“I’ve been working with Yonex for the last 12 years, since I joined the national training camp for the first time,” he said. “Hopefully, Yonex still wants to be my sponsor. But I’m also trying to get other sponsors.”
Taufik’s first opportunity to enjoy his newfound freedom comes March 3-8 at the All England Super Series in Birmingham.
“This year’s All England will be different, I can’t deny it,” he said. “I’ll be more motivated to win the title because this is the very first time I’ll compete in a tournament without the national team flag on my shoulder.”