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Tuesday June 25, 2013

Revitalised Indonesia a great concern, warns world No. 1

KUALA LUMPUR: Indonesia’s re-emergence as a badminton powerhouse is a great concern for world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei.

In the just-concluded Singapore Open, Indonesia clinched three titles with 25-year-old Tommy Sugiarto scoring a first in his career by winning the men’s singles crown. The other two titles were won by in-form Mohd Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan in the men’s doubles and the ever-dependable Ahmad Tantowi-Lilyana Natsir in the mixed doubles.

In Chong Wei’s absence, Malaysia’s best performer was Chong Wei Feng who lost to Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand in the quarter-finals. Two others – Daren and Mohd Arif Abdul Latif – were beaten in the first round.

It was even worse in the men’s doubles with Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem going out in the first round.

Chong Wei said yesterday the appointment of Rexy Mainaky as the high performance director could see Indonesia challenging for more honours in the future.

“Indonesia are doing well right now. Taufik Hidayat retired at the recent Indonesian Open and then Tommy won his first Super Series title on Sunday. The timing could not have been better. It was a good start for Tommy.

“The Indonesians now have several up-and-coming men’s singles players who are stepping out of the shadows of the seniors. Even Dionysius (Hayom Rumbaka) is doing well. We also saw some good results from their doubles department. I believe they are going to be a force again,” warned Chong Wei.

Last year, Indonesia returned home empty-handed for the first time from the London Olympics since badminton made it as an Olympic sport at the 1992 Barcelona Games. On top of that, they also failed to make the semi-finals for the first time in the Thomas Cup Finals.

Following Rexy’s resignation as Malaysia’s men’s doubles coach, the All-Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) quickly grabbed him to revive their fortunes.

Since his appointment in April, Indonesia have produced some excellent results. He made a number of crucial decisions, including recruiting former players to be coaches and officials and allowing the independent players to represent the country.

“Rexy was with us (for more than seven years). But since returning to Indonesia, there have been some positive changes there. It is important to have a leader who can oversee and manage the team. If the team is united, I am sure the players will also be encouraged to go the extra mile,” added the 30-year-old.

For Chong Wei, he hopes Daren and Wei Feng will step-up for the World Championships in Guangzhou, China, from Aug 5-11.

“Wei Feng’s performance is more stable now. He has been reaching the quarter-finals quite consistently but we hope he will be able to go further. Daren’s outing in Singapore was demoralising but I hope he will bounce back. He is already 26 and it is time for him to raise his level of performance.”

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