Manila: The Olympics are the pinnacle of an athlete’s career, all athletes must have dreamed of standing on the podium of the biggest sporting event in the world. These dreams, and hopes were the biggest motivation for Hendrawan, Indonesia’s former World champion who won the silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympic.
Hendrawan won the silver after losing to Ji Xinpeng (China) 4-15, 13-15.
All athletes faced face tough challenges ahead of the Olympics. As for Hendrawan, not only that he had to compete with players from other countries, he also had to compete with his teammates. At that time, there were five top Indonesian men’s singles players including Taufik Hidayat, Marlev Mainaky, Hendrawan, Hariyanto Arbi, and Budi Santoso were fighting to win three Olympic spots allocated for the country.
Eventually, Taufik, Marlev and Hendrawan were able to made it to the Olympics. However, Hendrawan’s road to the 2000 Olympic was not easy, especially when he had suffered with the typhus illness few months before the Olympics which made him absent in two tournaments prior to the Olympics.
“At that time I was competing with Budi and Hari for the last spot available within the Indonesian team, and there were still five tournaments left before the Olympics. Unfortunately, I was hit by typhus and lost the opportunity in two tournaments. I could only play at the 2000 All England, Swiss Open and Japan Open. But I was determined, and I told myself I had to enter the semifinals if I wanted to qualify. And fortunately, I was able to achieve the results I was aiming for,” said Hendrawan.
“I was chasing Olympic qualification points when I contracted the illness, I felt very down at that time. Then I was committed to recover fast and to overtake my own friends. To be the world’s top athlete, I must push myself beyond certain limit. I kept asking myself if I wanted to overcome the challenge or just gave up and surrender,” added Hendrawan.
Hendrawan’s physical fitness has declined tremendously after recovering from typhus. To regain his fitness, he started training with runners at a Jakarta club.
“I practiced running on the hills of Senayan that were ups and downs. At that time those runners were shocked that I could keep up with their pace. Even though it was a program for me to recover my fitness, it also made me realized that I wasn’t as strong as other athletes, therefore, I trained harder to overcome my shortcomings,” explained Hendrawan.
Competing in the Olympics was an extraordinary experience for Hendrawan, and he was well aware that the 2000 Sydney Olympics would be his first and last Olympics. Hendrawan entered the Indonesian national team at the age of 21 years old, which was considered pretty late as the average shuttler entered the Indonesia national team at a younger age.
“I realized that my time would not be long, I must be able to manage my peak performance in important tournaments, including the Olympics. Why was the pressure in the Olympics so big? Because if it didn’t work out, then we’ll need to wait four more years. The biggest enemy in the Olympics was our own fitness condition and how hungry we were. You really have to be passionate about what you do.”
As the Indonesian badminton team was aiming for gold medals in the Olympic, Hendrawan felt he failed even by winning the silver medal. In the same Olympic, Indonesia won gold through men’s doubles pair Candra Wijaya/Tony Gunawan.
“In Indonesia, silver and bronze medals mean failure, because our tradition was to win Olympic gold. I myself really felt like a failure. When I told my friends at other sports, they said I shouldn’t think that way, because that was Olympic, it’s not easy to even qualify for the Olympics, let alone winning the medal,” said Hendrawan who is currently Malaysia’s chief men’s singles coach.
“But not in badminton, we were targeting gold. For example, Tontowi (Ahmad) / Liliyana (Natsir), if they didn’t win gold at the Rio Olympics, it would be considered as failure as well,” continued Hendrawan.
As of today, Hendrawan still maintaining the self-discipline he developed when he was an athlete. Hendrawan said, in order to maintain his physical condition, he has to eat proper diet and has good rest periods. He always sleeps at 9pm every night, even until now.
“I used to have to go to bed early, because I need to do additional training in the morning. I used to wake up at 4:30 in the morning so that I could perform additional training at 5am. Then, I will participate in the afternoon and evening training, and sometimes night practice. We could be practicing up to three sessions per day,” said the 2001 World Champion.
Hendrawan said that to be a top player, the player must be willing to keep pushing the limit. As an experienced coach, Hendrawan advised the players nowadays to be more independent and willing to sacrifice more for success.