Hand it to Hendra as veteran has not given up on Olympics quest

Tough fight: Indonesia’s Hendra Setiawan (left) and Mohammad Ahsan beat China’s Ren Xiangyu-Tan Qiang 17-21, 21-15, 21-14 in 50 minutes.

INDONESIAN doubles ace Hendra Setiawan has a desire to attempt a feat that no player has ever done before – that is to win an Olympics gold after a lapse of 16 years at the Paris 2024 Games with Mohammad Ahsan.

Hendra, 37, won the men’s doubles gold with the late Markis Kido at the 2008 Beijing Games but failed to defend the title at the 2012 London Games after Markis withdrew from the event due to personal reasons.

This prompted Hendra to seek a new partner in Ahsan and the duo have won three world titles (2013, 2015 and 2019) but returned empty-handed from the 2016 Rio Games and the Tokyo Games last year.

However, Hendra has not given up on his chase for Olympics glory and is still optimistic of qualifying for the 2024 Games. He would be 39 while Ahsan 36.

“Age is not on our side and there are so many young pairs who are faster and physically stronger now. But we have the experience to rely on and I want to play at the Olympics for one last time in 2024,” said Hendra after reaching the second round of the Malaysian Open.

The world No. 3 Hendra-Ahsan were forced to come from behind to beat China’s Ren Xiangyu-Tan Qiang 17-21, 21-15, 21-14 in 50 minutes. They will meet another China pair He Jiting-Zhao Haodong today.

“Indonesia have several pairs who are also doing well and we hope to be given the chance by the association (PBSI) to play in Paris.

“Of course, the gold is everyone’s objective and we would give it a try and at least return with a medal.”

Hendra and Ahsan were denied the bronze in Tokyo by Malaysian pair Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik in the playoff.

A medal itself will be an unprecedented achievement as no player has managed to win a medal after a lapse of 16 years.

South Korean Kim Dong-moon, who won the mixed doubles with Gil Young-ah in 1996, secured his second gold at the 2004 Athens Games through the men’s doubles with Ha Tae-kwon.

That remains the longest gap between gold medals by a shuttler at the Olympics.

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