Sat, 16 Sep 2000

Hardcourt troubles Indonesian shuttler

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesian badminton mixed doubles specialist Bambang Suprianto said on Friday the hardcourt in the Dome's Pavillion 3 at the Olympics Park in Homebush Bay, Sydney, could jeopardize his opening campaign at the Olympic Games.

The sixth seeded duo of Bambang and Zelin Resiana are drawn to play Christ Hunt and Donna Kellogg of England on Saturday, the first career encounter ever between the two pairs.

"We have practiced at the stadium twice and there is no problem with the wind or lighting. It's just the court which is harder than usual," Bambang said from Sydney on Friday.

Bambang refused to rate his chance of beating the Britons in their first-round match.

"We both stand an equal chance of reaching the second round," said Bambang. "But I hope we can advance to the quarterfinals."

Should Bambang and Zelin overcome the Britons, they will likely meet the pairing of Chen Qiqiu and Chen Lin of China. The Chinese will meet home favorites Rio Suryana and Kellie Lucas.

Top seeds Tri Kusharjanto and Minarti Timur received a bye and will step onto the court on Sunday against the winners of the match between Ha Tae-kwon and Chung Jae-hee of South Korea and Vladislav Druzchenko and Victoria Evtoushenko of Ukraine.

"I have played many times against the Koreans and we often beat them. But I don't want the 1996 Olympics nightmare to be repeated when we lost to eventual winners Kim Dong-moon and Gil Yoong-ah, the team we frequently beat in regular tournaments," said Tri, who aims to end his partnership with Minarti with a gold medal.

"The most important thing is that we have to be aware of everything and refrain from being overconfident."

Tri said that he and Minarti were much improved in the training sessions, especially compared to their performances in the Indonesia and Malaysia Opens in July and August, respectively.

Both Tri and Bambang said the chilly weather could be a potential problem for their physical condition.

"It is very cold here and I didn't feel well yesterday but I'm OK now," Bambang said.

"The weather is OK but the wind is very strong. However, we are adapting. Besides, I think it's getting warmer here," Tri said.

The Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) medical doctor Michael Triangto said that Bambang was recovering from a bout of influenza.

"He is in the process of recovery. Hopefully he is getting better because he'll play a match tomorrow." (yan)