Petaling jaya: National men’s singles shuttler Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin’s (pic) mission next year is simple: Break into the world’s top 10.
What isn’t so simple though is that the world No. 23 will have to make some changes to his lifestyle and training first.
“I’m happy that Iskandar has shown the best progress among all the singles players this year,” said national coach Hendrawan.
“But, for him to move up to another level, he will have to change some of his old habits.
“I’d like to see more initiative from Iskandar when it comes to things like stretching, physiotherapy, choosing the right food and having a good rest in between his gruelling training sessions.”
Iskandar is one of three men’s singles players training under Hendrawan. The other two are world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei and Chong Yee Han.
The 25-year-old Iskandar began the year promisingly – reaching the Malaysian Masters final in January. He also did well to end the year by reaching his first Superseries semi-finals – in the China Open – last month.
Hendrawan intends to help Iskandar develop the character of a champion.
“There is no denying that we need to further develop his game. We have to add more weapons to his attacking style. I also need to improve his physical condition and build up his strength ... but it all has to start with him having the right character,” said the Indonesian.
“Everything will fall in place in training if he changes the way he lives his life outside the court.
“It’s all about proper planning and making some lifestyle adjustments. I’m glad that Iskandar is willing to make these changes.”
Hendrawan also brushed aside concerns about Iskandar’s age, saying “it’s never too late to bloom in badminton”.
“I was 26 when I first shot into the limelight. I was in the team that won the 1998 Thomas Cup Finals. I made some lifestyle changes and sacrifices,” he said.
“I used to do extra training whenever there was spare time and stayed in the hostel so that it would be easier to be fully focused on training.
“All this helped me to give 100% on the badminton court.”
Iskandar’s next assignment is the Malaysian Masters in Sibu, Sarawak, from Jan 17-22.