Wed, 10 Aug 1994

Clear sailing for host shuttlers in Indonesian Open

by Hidayat Jati

YOGYAKARTA (JP): Despite the absence of formidable foreign opposition and rampant walk-overs of provincial players in the Indonesia Open badminton championships, the mastery of leading Indonesian shuttlers is expected to enchant fans in this slow- paced mystical tourist town.

"I don't think our players will be let down by the lack of so- called worthy rivals," coach of the men's national team and former doubles great Christian Hadinata told The Jakarta Post here yesterday.

"In fact, this will only enhance their confidence since it is clear that foreign players have avoided this event partly due to the fear that our kids have instilled in them," he said in a relaxed, matter-of-fact, manner.

The main draw of the US$166,000 tournament, which has men's world singles champion Joko Suprianto and his female counterpart Susi Susanti atop the seeding lists, will swing into full action today.

On a separate occasion, South Korean coach Kwon Seong-taik told the Post that he was realistic about his side's prospects, despite the presence of big names like Park Sung-woo and Bang Soo-hyun who head his team's lineup of four players in each gender group.

"No one is better than your players now," he admitted.

Today's draw seems to confirm Kwon's remark. Susi earned a bye straight through to the second round while Joko faces unfancied Hans Jorg Bram of Germany.

Analysts suspect the foreign rivals, especially the top Malaysians, are afraid of challenging Indonesia's dream team on their home soil.

These pundits have drawn from the recent Thomas and Uber Cups in Jakarta, where Malaysians were forced to endure thousands of frantic bottle-throwing fans as well as the world's best squad.

"I'm sure they (Malaysians) are still somewhat shell-shocked from that," Christian assumed.

The Malaysians claimed they failed to make the trip here because they have to don their national colors at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada next week.

RAJ Gosal, secretary general of the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) quoted the Danish team manager as saying that most of Denmark's players are too tired to participate in the annual event.

The Danes did not even bother to replace Thomas Stuer- Lauridsen who was forced to pull out of the tournament after suffering a torn knee ligament during the World Cup final in Ho Chi Minh City last Sunday.

Coach Morten Frost said his ace will be able to start training in six weeks, but not resume match-play until late December.


Speaking during yesterday's press conference, Gosal also aired his "concern" about the 18 walk-overs committed by the regional shuttlers, mainly from East Kalimantan, during the Open's qualifying rounds yesterday.

"It's a real shame, how can we teach discipline to our young players if the team managers behave like that?" asked Gozal rhetorically.

In the meantime, both the organizing committee and sponsors have been frantically attempting to boost the event in this becak-ridden college town, as evidenced by the numerous banners adorning the 2,000 seat Among Raga stadium.

A local hairdressing salon has even erected a giant poster, measuring four meters by five meters, of Susi Susanti on the parking lot.

Meanwhile, the office of the organizing committee has been swamped by hundreds of reporters who mostly complained about the slow procedures and about the fact that they are required to sit in the balcony and not courtside.

Some 60 military personnel will be mobilized to maintain law and order at the venue. All types of bottles, cans and foods will be banned inside the stadium in an attempt to prevent a replay of the ugliness inside Senayan stadium last May.