Badminton Life

Taufik Faces Uphill Task to Defend Olympic Title, Says Official

Indonesia's Taufik Hidayat, the maverick of international badminton, is unlikely to be able to defend his title at the Olympic Games in Beijing this summer.

Who says so? The head of Indonesia's badminton governing body, that's who. Sutiyoso, chairman of the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) has gone on record as saying that Taufik is too wayward to be able to win a second gold medal.

Indonesia's leading singles player won gold in Athens four years ago but has failed to recapture his best form since. One week he is unbeatable, and the next he is losing to a player of half his ability.

And with powerful challenges coming from China's world number one Lin Dan and Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei, Taufik will find it difficult to press his claims for even a place on the podium, let alone the gold medal.

Instead, the chairman said Indonesia should look to men's doubles and mixed doubles for possible gold at the Beijing Games.

"It will be difficult for Taufik to retain his gold medal. He can't maintain his physical fitness and he keeps losing," Sutiyoso was quoted as saying in the Antara news agency.

"Indonesia has a greater chance of winning gold medals through the men's doubles pair with Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan and the mixed doubles pair of Nova Widianto and Lilyana Natsir."

Markis and Hendra were the number one men's doubles pair in the Badminton World Federation rankings released at the end of May. Similarly, Nova and Lilyana topped the mixed doubles rankings.

Indonesian shuttlers have much to live up to at the Olympics. Since the sport was given medal status at the 1992 Games in Barcelona, the country has always won at least a gold medal in the sport.

Taufik duly obliged in Athens but the player, famous for his temper outbursts and up-and-down performances, may not be able to do the business this time around, unless he undergoes a major transformation.

China is now the dominant power and Sutiyoso admits that Indonesia may struggle to keep up their excellent record at the Olympics.

"Given the strength of players in the men's division, it will be difficult for our shuttlers to keep contributing gold medals. China is still dominating the women's division."

Indonesia have two men's singles players in the Beijing main draw as well as one men's doubles pair, one women's singles player, one women's doubles pair and two mixed doubles representatives.

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