Badminton Life

Taufik Refuses to Rule Out Gold Hopes

For many weeks now, the media have been writing off defending Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat's hopes of winning a second straight gold medal in the men's singles.

The player, however, has a different view. He is convinced that he is capable of winning the tournament despite lack of form and having only recently recovered from a bout of dengue fever.

The former world number one, who has preparing at Beijing's Chaoyang Gymnasium, told Bernama that he still has what it takes to become a champion.

"I still stand a chance to be the champion. We'll see, let the competition starts," he said. "All people say Taufik, you are crazy, coming out of hospital and next day you are training.

"I say I am okay because I have only one week left. Without training, I will not come."

There was a time when Taufik was the most feared player in the world. These days he is hardly mentioned as the spotlight focuses on China's world champion and top seed Lin Dan and Malaysia's second-seeded Lee Chong Wei.

Taufik, meanwhile, is seeded seventh. Even his teammate and Athens bronze medalist, Sony Dwi Kuncoro is seeded higher than him.

The Indonesian said he is only 80 per cent fit but he is confident of doing well. He is trying to become the first player to win two straight gold medals in Olympic badminton.

"Four years ago, Lin Dan was the number one but he lost in the first round," said Taufik. "In the 2000 Olympics, I was the number one but I was beaten in the quarter-finals.

"Many people will be watching Lin Dan, there will be pressure on him."

Taufik faces his good friend, Malaysian Wong Choong Hann in his opening match. With Taufik 27 and Wong 31, the Indonesian joked that it will be "an old man's game".

For both players, it will be their last Olympics. Wong has already said he would retire after Beijing but Taufik intends to continue playing.

"This is the last Olympics for me, I will not retire after Beijing but I will be too old after another four years," he said.

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