Badminton Life

Indonesia's Top Players Ordered to Miss National Games

Indonesia recently started their National Games but the badminton competition, normally one of the most fiercely competitive events, was bare of the country's top stars.

That is because Indonesia's leading players decided to skip the tournament in favour of preparing for the Olympic Games in Beijing next month.

The National Sports Council (KONI) has urged the players to miss the competition, which is being held in Samarinda.

Mimi Irawan, an official of the Indonesian Badminton Assocation, was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying: "We have got a letter from KONI, advising us against fielding the players. They fear they might be injured. KONI demands the players put the nation's interests before their provinces.

"In case of injury, the players would have little time for recovery with the National Games winding up on July 17. They will depart for Beijing on July 25."

Among the players who are missing out are defending Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat, Athens bronze medalist Sony Dwi Kuncoro, Nova Widianto, Lilyana Natsir, Flandy Limpele, Vita Marissa, Markis Kido, Hendra Setiawan, Maria Kristin Yulianti, Luluk Hadiyanto and Alven Yulianto.

Taufik and Flandy were to represent West Java, who would have provided the strongest challenge to the favoured Jakarta squad, who will be fielding world-ranked player Simon Santoso.

West Java coach Herman Subarja was quoted as saying: "Their absence has affected the team's solidity. But we are optimistic about reaching the semifinals. Jakarta is very strong. Its players are strong and are on par with each other."

Indonesia are desperate for success on the Olympic stage after struggling on the international scene in recent years.

Long gone are the days of domination when Susi Susanti and Allan Budi Kusuma won women's singles and men's singles gold respectively at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Indonesia are now well behind the powerful Chinese in success and in terms of depth, with only Taufik and Sony capable of providing a challenge.

The Indonesians also want to recover from their disappointing performance at the Thomas Cup Finals in Jakarta in May, when they were stunned by eventual finalists South Korea in the quarter-finals.

Taufik has never really been able to recapture his form of four years ago and will face tough competition from a Chinese trio led by world number one Lin Dan.

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