Sun, 26 Mar 2000

Thomas Cup a checkpoint for Olympics, Agus says

JAKARTA (JP): Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) vice chairman Agus Wirahadikusumah said on Saturday that the Thomas Cup could be a leverage point for Indonesian male shuttlers to reach victory in the Olympics.

"If our shuttlers can retain the Thomas Cup in Kuala Lumpur in May, I believe their way to reach victory in the Olympics in Sydney in September is wide open," he said at the Indonesian Badminton Center in Cipayung, East Jakarta.

"On the contrary, if we fail in the Thomas Cup, it will be really difficult to raise athletes' motivation to fight their best in the Olympics."

Agus was optimistic that national shuttlers would be able to retain the Thomas Cup. However, he was doubtful on the Uber Cup team's chances in the event in Kuala Lumpur in May.

In the draw made by the International Badminton Federation (IBF), Indonesia is in Thomas Cup group B with China, England and Sweden. While in Group A, host Malaysia will face Denmark, South Korea and India.

In the Uber Cup, Indonesia will have to fight hard against Denmark, Japan and host Malaysia in group A. In group B, defending champion China will meet South Korea, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Agus said PBSI still had time to create a conducive atmosphere prior to the Thomas and Uber Cups and the Olympics.

"It's not too late to build unity among shuttlers, coaches and officials in order to reach our goals. The three parties must trust each other as it's really important to create synergy in motivation and fighting spirit," he said

"To trust others, we must not see their weaknesses but we must look at ourselves. We have to improve ourselves to create a better situation," he said.

"Prior to major events like Thomas and Uber Cups and the Olympics, we must create a situation which is completely different to their daily routines."

Agus, the 1998 Thomas and Uber Cups team manager, said he experienced the same situation in 1998, but Indonesia managed to retain the Thomas Cup thanks to athletes' fighting spirit and good teamwork.

Indonesia was the underdog in the event and the situation was worsened by riots at home, which eventually forced former president Soeharto to step down.

Agus hoped that his comeback as an official would have a positive meaning not only to shuttlers but also to coaches and officials.

"In my capacity as vice chairman, I will help PBSI chairman (Subagyo Hadisiswoyo) in preparing the team for the Thomas and Uber Cups and the Olympics," he said.

Agus, an Army major general, was posted as the Wirabuana/Sulawesi Military Commander in Makassar, South Sulawesi, late last year. He will be installed as Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) chief on March 29.

Agus has promised to fulfill athletes' request for him to be more active in PBSI as they said they really needed a role model like Agus who has been willing to pay attention to, listen to and understand them.

"Officials must realize that they must have public accountability. If they can't fulfill the public's hope, they must resign from their posts." (yan)