PETALING JAYA: Indonesians Flandi Limpele and Eng Hian are former partners who have turned out to be successful badminton coaches at the Tokyo Olympics.
The 47-year-old Flandi, who is Malaysia’s men’s doubles head coach, has guided Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik to a bronze medal in their first Olympics while the 44-year-old Eng Hian is the coach behind the gold-medal victory of Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu in the women’s doubles.
Flandi and Eng Hian played together from 1998-2005.
They won a bronze at the 2004 Athens Games, reigned as the world No. 1 pair briefly between1999 and 2000 and won numerous titles together.
Flandi believed their good partnership, respect for each other, and the ups and downs they went through as players had made them better coaches.
“It’s nice to see my partner and I having success as coaches in the same Olympics. I’m happy for him, he has done well as the women’s doubles coach,” said Flandi.
“We’ve never lost contact although we are in different countries, in fact, we are like a family. We’ve built a close friendship because of the sport.
“During our playing days, we understood each other well. The good communication and combination had helped in our journey as one of the top pairs in the country together with Candra Wijaya-Tony Gunawan.
“I guess our low point in the past has also helped us to become better coaches. We are able to understand what the players go through when they are down. As coaches, the most important thing is to stand by our players, more so, when they are down.”
Flandi-Eng Hian entered the 2000 Sydney Games as the third seeds but went down to former internationals Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah in the quarter-finals.
“We were expected to win but we failed. We picked up from there and returned to the next Olympics to win a bronze. We had good support.”
While Eng Hian is hailed in Indonesia for his role, Flandi too has won praises for delivering just within a year.
He joined the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) in July last year, and had to be quarantined for two weeks before starting his job, and now, he is under quarantine after returning home as the coach who had a made a difference in Aaron-Wooi Yik’s career.
“I moved here during the Covid-19 pandemic just last year. The bronze is like a one-year anniversary gift for me.
“I appreciate Aaron-Wooi Yik for their courage to go after their dreams. It all depends on the players really, and these boys showed that they badly want success,” he said.
“It’s easy to get satisfied but I’ll keep them hungry for more. There are many major events ahead of them after this... we’ll keep them humble.”
Flandi also concluded that Tokyo would always be a special place for him.
“It’s here that I started my coaching career when I joined Hitachi club (2010-2015). I’ve also won Japan Open titles with Eng Hian (2003) and Vita Marissa (mixed doubles, 2006). Now, I’ve a first Olympics medal as a coach in Japan. I’m inspired to be a better coach,” added Flandi.