Mentor Hsienhu serves as inspiration for him to lift women’s singles players

  • Badminton
  • Friday, 22 May 2020

Hsienhu (centre) with Indra (left) and his brother Candra when they were boys.

PETALING JAYA: Newly-appointed head coach Indra Wijaya of Indonesia has an extra motivation to turn Malaysia’s women’s singles department into a force to be reckoned with.

The 46-year-old Indra wants to keep alive the legacy of his long-time mentor and former coach Tang Hsienhu, also known as “The Thing” (a Marvel comic hero) among the world badminton fraternity.

Indra joined the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) as the men’s singles back-up coach in 2016 but now, he is in charge of six women’s singles shuttlers - Soniia Cheah, S. Kisona, Goh Jin Wei, Lee Ying Ying, Eoon Qi Xuan and K. Letshanaa.

“I’m excited with the new role in BAM. I want to be a good coach like my mentor and I believe it’s my responsibility to maintain his name and reputation, ” said Indra.

Hsienhu played for Indonesia between 1961 and 1979 before turning to coaching in 1981.

He switched camps between Indonesia and China a few times. He was with Indonesia (1981 and 1987-1998) and China (1982-1987 and 1998 until he retired in 2010).

Hsien-hu, who can converse in Bahasa Indonesia, is an influential figure to five-time world champion Lin Dan and is credited as the man behind his gold-medal victory at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Indra said he was only 13 when he was put under the guidance of Hsienhu together with his famed younger brother Candra Wijaya in a club.

“Later, Candra and I joined him in the national team. I’ve learnt so much from him. He taught me not only the tricks in badminton but also how to be a good person in life, ” said Indra.

“I still keep in touch with him. In fact, he celebrated his 74th birthday this year (on March 13). I get some coaching input from him regularly too. He will always be my teacher.”

Indra said his coaching career that spans over a decade had been enriched, thanks to the experience and knowledge from Hsienhu, who is based in Dongguan at Guangdong Province.

“I left Indonesia in 2000 and played for Singapore for four years. Then, I helped my brother Candra at his academy in Jakarta for two years. I went into full-time coaching after that, ” said Indra, who was a member of the 1998 Indonesian Thomas Cup-winning team in Hong Kong.

“I was with South Korea for a while before I joined Malaysia. In South Korea, I’ve to admit I spent more time with the men’s singles than the women.

“So, handling the women’s singles here in Malaysia will be a new challenge for me but one that, I’m looking forward to, ” he said.

Indra said he would start by building the players’ confidence first.

“I did the same when I started as the back-up coach for Lee Zii Jia, Leong Jun Hao and Cheam June Wei in 2016.

“I’ll do the same with the girls too. Every player has a different character and I need to get to know them better first, ” he said.

“To me, building their confidence is the foundation, and that’s not easy and it takes time. I’m looking forward to making it a successful coaching stint.”

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