Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Markis, Hendra are now professionals

Markis Kido (picture, left) and Hendra Setiawan (right) open a new chapter in their careers this year as Indonesia’s best men’s doubles pair begins playing as professionals.

The duo, ranked third in the world, officially secured its release from the national team last week. The Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) issue a letter of release, breaking ties with the pair which had been in the national team since 2001.

Markis and Hendra’s first act as professionals was to secure a sponsor to fund their ability to play in international tournaments. Both were sponsored by apparel company Yonex during their time with the national team, but that deal ended once they left the camp.

They announced on Monday they secured a three-year deal with Flypower, a local sporting goods company which is owned by Indonesian badminton legend Hariyanto Arbi. None of the parties were willing to reveal contract details, but the deal is reportedly worth Rp 1.5 billion ($160,000) per year.

“They offered us good money, I can only tell you that. Anyway, we have to start loving our national products, don’t we?” Markis said on Monday. “[Flypower] had been approaching us since we announced that we had quit the national team early this year.”

Hariyono also kept quiet on the details, only saying the amount was “sufficient” for world-class shuttlers, adding, “We’re very proud as now we have the right ambassadors for our products.”

Their contract states they must play in six Super Series tournaments — Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the China Masters, French Open and China Open — as well as three each in the Grand Prix and National Circuit series.

However, Markis said they also plan to compete in the All England, Swiss and Hong Kong tournaments.

“We’ll get a 15 percent bonus if we can stay in the world top four at the end of every year,” he said. “That, of course, will motivate us more to get better results.”

The pair comes into 2010 after a lean season by their standards. A nagging left knee injury and high blood pressure hampered Markis as the duo lost its world No. 1 ranking to Malaysia’s Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong.

They won just two of 12 Super Series events, Japan and France, in addition to the Asian Badminton Championship. They closed 2009 with team and men’s doubles gold medals at the Southeast Asian Games in Laos.

Markis and Hendra’s first international event this year will be the Thomas Cup Asian qualifiers in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, on Feb. 22-28. That could pose a problem as the PBSI’s national shuttlers are obliged to wear apparel made by Yonex, the national team’s main sponsor.

Hariyanto said he did not have a problem with Markis and Hendra wearing another comapny’s products while competing for the national team. “But they have to wear ours outside the Thomas Cup,” he warned.

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