While its rivals struggle with the issue of giving exposure to young players, Indonesia has selected nine first-timers to play in the World Badminton Championships in Hyderabad, India from 10-16 August.
The nine first timers, include doubles pair Mohamed Ahsan (picture, left) and Bona Septano (right).
This is a bold move by Indonesia and this investment is going to bring huge dividends for Indonesia - in the form of trophies - in the near future.
Many countries, including Malaysia, struggle with the issue of giving exposure to young shuttlers. There is always the question of which tournament to sent juniors for exposure and which not to sent.
For this World Championship, Malaysia has included some back-up team players while Indonesia is giving its young junior a chance to play at the highest level.
For Bona and Ahsan, the call-up is an opportunity to prove their worth after illness forced world No. 1 pair and defending world champions Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan to withdraw.
“I’m so amused and wary at the same time because this is my very first World Championship. Markis and Hendra’s withdrawal won’t change anything, but we feel the burden because now we are Indonesia’s men’s doubles best chance in the championship,” said Bona, Markis’s younger brother, in Cipayung, Jakarta, Friday.
The seventh-seeded duo meets China’s Xu Chen and Guo Zhendong in the first round.
Fortunately for the Indonesians, Markis was well enough to share his experience and scout reports on potential opponents with his little brother.
One problem advance intelligence will not fix is the pair’s lingering ankle injuries. Bona suffered his injury during the All England in March, while Ahsan went down during the Indonesia Open in June.
“We’re fully recovered now. I guarantee that,” Ahsan said. “We’re in fit condition and ready to fight.”
Like the top men’s pair, Nitya Krishinda Maheswari and Greysia Polii will be thrust into the spotlight in women’s doubles.
Nitya said the World Championship might be too much too soon for her and was thankful to have an experienced partner in Greysia, who has two worlds appearances.
“Well, I never expected it would come this soon, but here I am,” Nitya said. “[Greysia] has helped me a lot in motivating and developing my skills for the championship.
“We are underestimated because we haven’t won anything in previous tournaments. But I’m ready to change that, because nothing is impossible. I just have to play my best.”
The other shuttlers making their worlds debuts are Ryan Sukmawan and Yonathan Suryatama Dasuki (men’s doubles), Meiliana Jauhari and Shendy Puspa Irawati (women’s doubles), Devin Lahardi Fitriawan and Lita Nurlita (mixed doubles).
Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) chief Djoko Santoso said he did not expect too much from the debutantes.
“They are still too young, but let’s hope they can win something from the World Championship,” he said.
Former player Alan Budikusumah said now was the time for the youngsters to prove they were Indonesia’s next big things.
“I think Bona and Ahsan are ready to replace Markis and Hendra soon,” he said.
World Championship squad:
Men’s singles: Sony Dwi Kuncoro, Simon Santoso, Taufik Hidayat
Women’s singles: Maria Kristin Yulianti, Adriyanti Firdasari
Men’s doubles: Bona Septano/Muhammad Ahsan, Ryan Sukmawan/Yonathan Suryatama Dasuki
Women’s doubles: Greysia Polii/Nitya Krishinda Maheswari, Meiliana Jauhari/Shendy Puspa Irawati
Mixed doubles: Nova Widianto/Liliyana Natsir, Devin Lahardi Fitriawan/ Lita Nurlita.