Indonesia’s best shuttlers are on the road once again in search of long-lost silverware.
The Thomas and Uber Cup squads leave for Kuala Lumpur on Friday as they try to reclaim the world team championships. Indonesia’s men have not won the Thomas Cup since 2002, while the women’s last Uber Cup victory came in 1996.
Despite the extended drought, Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) chairman Djoko Santoso said he had high hopes for both teams.
“We’ve done our best to help you [shuttlers] prepare for the Thomas and Uber Cups. Now it’s time for all of you to give us your best,” Djoko said on Tuesday at the PBSI’s 59th anniversary party, which also served as the teams’ sending-off ceremony. “Bringing home the two trophies, I think, is not an impossible target.”
Play begins on Sunday at the Bukit Jalil Sports Complex and runs through May 16.
Djoko declined to discuss possible win bonuses, saying, “We don’t want to pamper athletes with bonuses.”
Indonesia’s Uber Cup team took second place when Jakarta hosted the 2008 tournaments, losing 3-0 to China in the final, while the men bowed out in the Thomas Cup semifinals after a 3-0 loss to Korea.
The Uber Cup squad received a boost when Group B opponent Denmark announced European and All England champion Tine Rasmussen had withdrawn from the tournament with a leg injury. That left Denmark’s highest-ranked singles shuttler as world No. 52 Camilla Sorensen.
“Denmark is still a tough team to beat, and we must not underestimate its other players,” world No. 19 Maria Febe Kusumastuti said.
For Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka, this year will be his first experience at the biennial world team championship.
However, his status as Indonesia’s No. 4 singles shuttler after Taufik Hidayat (picture), Sony Dwi Kuncoro and Simon Santoso could mean he will not even see the court in Malaysia.
“I understand the fact that probably I won’t even play, but I’ll be ready if the team needs me,” Dionysius said. “If I have my chance, I know that it will be important for me to prove myself as a national team player.”
Indonesia’s men were drawn with Australia and India in Group D. They will lean on Taufik, the only holdover from the country’s 2000 and 2002 championships, to show the way.
Taufik said he was up for the task. “I’m not as good as when I helped the team win in 2002,” the 28-year-old said. “But I’ll give my best to lift the trophy for a third time.”
If he needs inspiration, he can draw on previous memories from Kuala Lumpur. His victory over Ji Xinpeng in 2000 gave Indonesia a 3-0 sweep of China in the final. -JG.Dark Tide, The