Monday, May 17, 2010

Taufik calls for fresh blood

Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat grimacing during his No. 1 singles match against China’s Lin Dan in the finals of the Thomas Cup in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday. Lin won the match 21-7, 21-14. (AFP Photo/Saeed Khan)

Following Indonesia’s latest failure to win the Thomas Cup, former national team shuttler Taufik Hidayat  (picture) revealed his feelings of restlesness about the lack of player regeneration inside the squad.

Taufik, a gold medalist at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, said the flow of new blood has slowed.

“It has always been Sony [Dwi Kuncoro], Simon [Santoso] and me filling in the men’s singles lineup since 2004. Now I’m the first singles in my sixth Thomas Cup. There must be something wrong with the young players’ development,” the 28-year-old told the Jakarta Globe.

Taufik first joined the Thomas Cup squad in the 2000 finals, which also took place in Kuala Lumpur, as the team’s No. 2 singles shuttler.

His presence helped Indonesia emerge as the winner, claiming the tie’s clinching third victory against Sydney Olympic champion Ji Xinpeng of China, and Taufik has been a fixture on the country’s Thomas Cup squad ever since.

Taufik said this year’s squad lacked the kind of quality the national team had in 2000, when it swept longtime rival China 3-0 to claim Indonesia’s 13th Thomas Cup title.

“We could hardly select the names to fill in the lineup because we had too many good players, but now we have no more choices. I really wish this could be my last Thomas Cup ,” the former world champion said.

That, he continued, was why he welcomed the Indonesian Badminton Association’s (PBSI) decision to name Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka as the fourth singles player and give him a chance to see the court this year.

Dionysius, filling in for the absent Sony, defeated Stuart Gomez of Australia 21-12, 21-10 during Group D play.

“Though I’m confident enough that the players will still be the same for the next Thomas Cup, at least the PBSI has started to let a young player like Hayom play in the team event,” he said.

“But it’s not enough because the PBSI must continously send Hayom to international tournaments to elevate his world ranking. The BWF [Badminton World Federation] will start the qualifying for London Olympic Games next year. I hope there will be more prominent young players to come.”

Former State Minister of Youth and Sport Adhyaksa Dault said the national government is ready to support badminton’s development in Indonesia through the Golden Indonesia Program, a national training program that was launched this year by the government and the Indonesia National Sports Committee.

“The government has allocated money to help boost sports development in Indonesia, including badminton as our favorite sport in international level competitions,” Adhyaksa said after the final.

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