Fri, 18 May 2001

Female shuttlers told to prove their mettle

JAKARTA (JP): Mixed doubles specialist Tri Kusheryanto urged his female teammates to prove their skills in the upcoming Sudirman Cup so as to quell the mounting criticism of their poor achievements over the last two years.

"I hope the women shuttlers will see the positive side of the criticism by working harder to achieve better results. Otherwise they will crack and get frustrated," he said after a training session on Thursday at the Indonesian Badminton Center in Cipayung, East Jakarta.

"All the players have agreed to help our female teammates with their day-to-day training by becoming their practice partners."

Tri, who took the 2000 Olympics silver medal with Minarti Timur, said the women shuttlers still had a chance to contribute one or two points in the mixed team biennial event at San Pablo Stadium from May 28 to June 3.

"Who knows, maybe our best players in the men's singles, men's doubles or mixed doubles will be beaten and the women's singles or doubles could make up for it instead. Anything can happen there."

"Our women players have similar skills to those of other countries, but it is up to them to put up a fight at the event to prove their quality.

Following the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI)'s decision to revised its target for the event from reaching the semifinals to winning the cup, the players have been newly motivated to give their all.

"Our motivation was boosted after the officials revised the target to retake the cup instead of just reaching the semifinals, which was not a target at all," Tri said.

"We have all set our minds on the Sudirman Cup and will do our best to take the title. Winning or losing is not a big issue as long as we do our best."

"As the cup bears the name of an Indonesian badminton hero, we must bring it back."

Men's doubles player Sigit Budiarto, who just won the Japan Open title with partner Candra Wijaya, called on the officials to develop a more comfortable atmosphere to enable the shuttlers to focus on their training.

"Officials should spend more time with us and getting involved in our activities. They could also create a little diversion from the daily routine so as to make us all feel a little bit fresher," he said.

Sigit was referring to a lunch outing for the team members on Tuesday after visiting Sudirman's grave at the Tanah Kusir Cemetery in South Jakarta. Sudirman was former PBSI chairman and deputy chairman of the International Badminton Federation, whose name is taken for the event.

A new training atmosphere was to seen at the center as junior shuttlers gave a helping hand to the seniors by drilling the seniors shots in three-on-one games.

Usually the seniors and juniors have different training schedules but the juniors were willing to help the seniors due to the lofty target of bringing home the Sudirman Cup.

"Seeing our juniors trying to help us by becoming our practice partners really boosted our motivation to give our best shots at the event," Tri said.

The PBSI official in charge of athletes development, Mangombar Ferdinand Siregar, said it would be a game of strategy to bring the title home.

"Each participating country will enlist its shuttlers and field those deemed suitable for each match. Therefore, our coaches and officials must be able to predict which shuttlers will play against ours. But we must remember it is only an estimation."

The Indonesian contingent is expected to meet President Abdurrahman Wahid sometime next week before their departure next Wednesday.

"The Presidential Secretariat officials asked the PBSI to confirm the schedule next Monday. I hope we can meet the president next Tuesday," said Siregar. (nvn)