Fri, 12 Aug 1994

Healed Alan vows to return to the big league and defend title

By Hidayat Jati

YOGYAKARTA (JP): Alan Budikusuma, defending Indonesia Open badminton champion and gold medal winner in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, said that he has licked his wounds long enough and vowed to return to the top three.

"1994 has not been exactly my best year, thanks to the my knee injury last year," he told the Jakarta Post while watching the many one sided matches at the Among Rogo stadium yesterday.

"But now I'm ready to make a comeback," he said.

"All the way to the top, hopefully," added the 26 year-old shuttler.

This year Alan has failed to win the hearts of the fans and the pundits which have been with him in the past. He has not reached the finals in any of the international tournaments he participated in this year.

More importantly, Alan did not make it into last month's Thomas Cup line-up, where Indonesia finally managed to regain the Thomas as well as the Uber Cup.

Some sports writers have doubted his chance of making to the upcoming Asian Games next October.

"Alan's time is up, he should stay at home and give his place to a younger player," said one journalist while watching him play against Singaporean Hamid Khan on Wednesday.

Alan, did not look relaxed or sufficiently confident during the early stages of his match against the old Singaporean.

Alan struggled and was behind 6-3, but, after some work, Alan finished the set neatly at 15-7. In the second set, he loosened up some more and executed a smart victory with a total of 15-7, 15-3 and proved the flimsiness of the sport pundits' analysis.

"I did have some trouble in finding what makes Khan tick during the first set," Alan said to his coach immediately after the game.


For the rest of the day Alan appeared quite relaxed and spent most of his time chatting to his younger brother Henry, a 17-year-old shuttler, who is a member of the Djarum club of Central Java.

"I'm ready to defend my title at all costs," he told the Post, "Including the possibility of facing Joko in the quarterfinal."

He went on to tell the Post that he could understand the mental and physical fatigue suffered by the absent Danish players.

"It's tough being a big league athlete," he added.

"I can relate, from what I read from the papers, to what Roberto Baggio said after missing the penalty in the World Cup final," Alan continued, "He had to go through an incredibly tense one month competition, no wonder he got burned at the end."

Alan admitted that he also found the endless matches and tours very consuming at times.

He said, however, that despite all the downs, he has chosen this life and he will always try his best.

Have the constant practicing and competing hindered his relationship with Susi Susanti, the top women's shuttler?

"We are very close and always encourage each other," he said, slightly irritated by the question, "but we have agreed that careers take priority for now."

"We are not thinking about marriage in the near future," he added.

"Right now I have the Open and the upcoming Asian Games to think about," he concluded.