Badminton Life

Indonesia Hoping to Live Up to Gold Burden

Indonesia managed to fulfill their gold-a-Games record at the Beijing Olympics last month. However, the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) must now look ahead to London in four years time to ensure at least another gold.

Since badminton became a medal sport at the 1992 Barcelona Games, Indonesia have won at least one gold medal in every Olympics.

In Beijing, they had their men's doubles team of Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan to thank. That was in addition to silver and a bronze.

For London, they have already started their preparations, though PBSI officials admit the demands of the gold medal tradition can be a heavy weight to bear.

PBSI chairman Sutiyoso was quoted as saying in local media: "It's quite a burden. We relied on the men's and mixed doubles. Having two pairs as finalists was extraordinary."

The other finalists were the mixed doubles pairing of Nova Widianto and Lilyana Natsir.

The bronze was won by Maria Kristin Yulianti in the women's singles event. It was her performance that really caught the eye.

Although she was knocked out in the semi-finals, she was never expected to go that far. And the fact that the 23-year-old was able to win a bronze against tough opposition from China means she could be a contender for gold in the London Olympics.

The last time Indonesia won a women's singles medal was in 1996 when Mia Audina took silver. Susi Susanti won gold in 1992 and bronze in 1996.

Said Sutiyoso: "Maria's target was only the quarter-finals. But she progressed beyond that, much to our surprise. She deserves to be called a giant killer."

As part of the programme to identify top female players, Sutiyoso said the height limit for future contenders will be 165 centimetres.

He said that the Chinese players are blessed with great height, which helps them to dominate their opponents.

He said: "One of the obstacles is that our female shuttlers are short, far shorter than the Chinese players, whose average height is over 170cms.

"We have also changed from the old style of training at the badminton center, that women players should be coached by women coaches. We called in Hendrawan to coach them."

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