The Star Online > Sports
Friday July 30, 2004
Misbun: Don’t take Indonesians lightly

KUALA LUMPUR: The Indonesian badminton players have not been all that mighty in recent times but national singles chief coach Misbun Sidek still considers them as serious contenders for medals at the Athens Olympic Games.

“When it comes to Indonesia, I will not rule out their challenge. Their players will still be a threat at the Olympics although their recent results are not so good,” said Misbun yesterday.

In the last two tournaments prior to the Olympic Games, the Indonesian players have struggled.

At the Thomas Cup Finals in Jakarta in May, the five-time champion Indonesia's challenge was ended by Denmark in the semi-finals.

In the Malaysian Open early this month, both the men's singles and doubles players failed to make much headway.

Indonesia will be represented by Sony Dwi Kuncoro and Taufik Hidayat in the singles at the Athens Games. Their three doubles pairs are Luluk Hadiyanto-Alven Yulianto, Flandi Limpele-Eng Hian and Sigit Budiarto-Trikus Hariyanto.

“Sony and Taufik should not be judged based on their performances at the Malaysian Open. I do not think these players gave their all then. I am sure they will bounce back stronger in Athens. I dare not say that any of my charges are better than them,” he said.

Malaysia will be represented by Wong Choong Hann, Mohd Roslin Hashim and Lee Chong Wei in the men's singles. The men’s doubles players are Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah and Chan Chong Ming-Chew Choon Eng.

At the Malaysian Open in Kuantan, Sony lost to South Korean Park Sung-hwan in the last 16 while Taufik crashed out at the same stage to Singaporean Ronald Susilo.

“They have a maximum of three pairs in the men's doubles and all of them can challenge for the medals. Other teams should not under-estimate them at all,” added Misbun.

At the Thomas Cup Finals, the Indonesian men's doubles were a huge let down and they could miss the chance to win medals in Athens.

Indonesian men's doubles players have reached the final of the men's doubles in every Games since badminton was introduced as an Olympic sport in Barcelona in 1992.

In 1992, the Indonesian team won two gold medals through Alan Budi Kusuma (men's singles) and Susi Susanti (women's singles) but Eddy Hartono-Rudy Gunawan lost to Park Joo-bong-Kim Moon-soo in the men's doubles final.

At Atlanta in 1996, Ricky Subagja-Rexy Mainaky (men's doubles) won the gold; and in Sydney 2000, Tony Gunawan-Candra Wijaya claimed the country's solitary gold medal.