Tue, 14 May 2002

PBSI unveils ambitious programs for 2004

Novan Iman Santosa, The Jakarta Post, Guangzhou, China

Despite the failure of the national women's team to reach the semifinals of the 2002 Uber Cup, the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) has still set itself the ambitious goal of bringing back badminton glory to Indonesian soil.

"We must work hard to regain our domination of world badminton, and there is still ample time to prepare and improve our shuttlers," PBSI chairman Chairul Tanjung said here on Monday.

"I have already set up a special team to prepare our shuttlers for a clean sweep of the badminton events at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

"Two and a half years of preparation will be more than enough to reach that goal."

At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Indonesia won gold with the men's doubles team of Candra Wijaya and Tony Gunawan, and two silvers from men's singles Hendrawan and the mixed doubles team of Minarti Timur and Tri Kusheryanto.

Indonesia has won at least one gold medal at every Olympics in which badminton has been included. At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Susy Susanti and Alan Budikusuma won gold in the women's and men's singles.

At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics Rexy Mainaky and Ricky Subagja won the men's doubles gold, and Candra and Tony kept the tradition alive in Australia.

Chairul said he had appointed eight-time All England champion Rudy Hartono, who also took part in the 1992 Olympics, to lead a special team to prepare for the 2004 Olympics.

"I myself will chair the team but Rudy will be responsible for the day-to-day technical matters. PBSI will provide all the necessary resources.

"Rudy will cooperate with other PBSI officials to synchronize their work programs. I will review every decision before signing off on it to prevent any possible clashes," he said.

Indonesia's women badminton players have fallen fast and far down the world rankings since Susy's retirement in 1998. The situation was worsened when shuttler Mia Audina Tjiptawan moved to the Netherlands in 1999, to follow her Dutch husband and partly because of a feud with PBSI officials.

Indonesia's 3-2 loss to the Netherlands on Saturday, with Mia contributing two points for her adopted country, meant that for the first time ever the national women failed to advance to the Uber Cub semifinals. The national women had already lost 3-2 to Hong Kong in the Uber Cup opener.

"The girls should have won both matches because we still have a slight advantage over Hong Kong and the Dutch," Chairul said.

Chairul was particularly disappointed with second singles player Ellen Angelina, who failed to win crucial points in both matches.

Meanwhile, Rudy acknowledged that winning five gold medals at the next Olympics would be extremely difficult given the current poor play of the women shuttlers.

"Our women badminton players are performing so badly. We do not have any shuttlers of Susy's caliber, and it will take a long time to produce another shuttler like her.

"All we can do is groom the youngsters by sending them to as many tournaments as possible in the next two years," he said.