Mon, 24 Apr 2000

Jakartans sign support for Thomas/Uber Cup teams

JAKARTA (JP): Jakartans flocked to the Senayan Main Stadium ring road on Sunday morning to give support to national shuttlers competing in the upcoming Thomas and Uber Cup Finals by signing banners.

Nearly 2,000 signatures were collected on the banners which will later be brought to the Padjadjaran Stadium in Bogor where national shuttlers will have a warming up simulation prior to the biennial event in Kuala Lumpur from May 11 to May 21.

The signing was initiated by the Olympic Games executive training director, Arie Sudewo, who is also the vice chairman of the National Sports Council (KONI), the state minister of youth affairs and sports assistant, Darwam Siregar, KONI secretary- general Rudolf S. Warouw, chairman of the Gelora Senayan Executive Directors Yasidi Hambali and executive director of the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) Karsono.

The banners -- "Thomas Cup Belongs to Us" and "Grab Uber Cup" -- were later handed over to five shuttlers attending the event; men's singles world number two Hendrawan and number six Marlev Mainaky, men's doubles Sigit Budiarto and women's singles Lidya Djaelawidjaja and Yuli Marfuah.

Representing shuttlers, Hendrawan expressed great gratitude from local badminton lovers saying the team would try its best to retain the Thomas Cup for the 12th time.

"This is a great event for shuttlers to realize that national badminton lovers are behind us during a very important event like the Thomas and Uber Cup."

However, he expressed sadness on the absence of another 28 shuttlers in the event, which was staged by sports journalists.

"Shuttlers must be here today to know how many people are relying on us to maintain our country's greatness in the international world."

Women's doubles coach Imelda Wiguna shared the same idea.

"This event reminds me of my youth where so many people were supporting us to win the Thomas and Uber Cups. I'm really apologetic knowing only a few shuttlers are attending the event."

Arie said shuttlers would be able to retain the Thomas Cup and bring home the Uber Cup as expected by badminton lovers.

"People have shown great enthusiasm. Please don't let them down by not achieving your best at the event."

Spectators at the simulation in Bogor have a chance to sign the banners. The banners will be later brought to Kuala Lumpur to boost the teams' fighting spirit.

Speaking about his preparation for the Thomas Cup, Hendrawan said he had a very limited time to prepare himself but he would not give up in the event easily.

"As I always said, competing in a team event is completely different from an individual event. Don't expect me to lose easily in the Thomas Cup because I will fight my best."

Hendrawan, who will compete as the first singles, named Dane Peter Gade Christensen, Malaysian Wong Choon Han and Chinese Xia Xuanze as tough rivals.

"I have an equal chance against Peter but I must be very careful against Xia because I have lost twice to him in the All England and the Japan Open. I have never met Wong but I think he's also a good player."

Even with injuries haunting Indonesia's preparation, the PBSI is still optimistic to reach its goals.

"We have a great chance to retain the Thomas Cup. However, we must be realistic on the slight opportunity to bring home the Uber Cup but our shuttlers will definitely give their best," said Karsono. (yan)