The Straits Times
December 19 2008

Shuttler is going back to school to prepare for life after badminton

By Terrence Voon

After 10 years as one of Singapore's most recognisable sportsmen, Ronald Susilo is set to hang up his badminton racket for good.

The Indonesia-born ace intends to retire from the national team by 2010 to focus on his career after sport.

"I will call it quits within the next two years," he told The Straits Times yesterday.

"I want to learn new things and set up a badminton academy - things which I've been putting off because of badminton."

The 29-yer-old, who has not played since his opening-round exit at the Beijing Olympics in August, will take a lengthy break from competition next month.

He will begin studying for a diploma in manangement studies at SIM University (UniSIM) on Jan 5. The full-time, 15-month course will require him to attend classes six times a week.

Susilo cannot wait to return to the classroom for the first time since his days at Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) in 1997.

He said: "I'm quite excited to go back to school.

"This is a new challenge for me because I haven't studied for such a long time, but I'm looking forward to meeting new people and learning new things."

He first found fame in 2004, when he won the Japan Open. Later that year, he beat then-world No.1 Lin Dan at the Athens Olympics.

But his form has plunged in recent years, partly due to the persistent injuries he has suffered to his Achilles tendon and shoulder.

At the Athens Games, Susilo was ranked ninth in the world and was the Republic's undisputed No.1 male shuttler.

Now, owing to a lack of competitive action, he has slipped to 72nd and trails teammate Kendrick Lee, the world No. 33.

When asked why he did not want to retire immediately, Susilo said he still wants to play, as long as he remains fit.

"I still love badminton, and if there is a break in my course timetable, I will take part in some tournaments," he said.

"I think I still have it in me, but I will need time to recover from all the injuries."

During his free time, he intends to keep fit by training on his own and sparring with his younger teammates.

His move to pursue studies full-time has the blessings of the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA), which will pay for his course fees using its Player Development Fund.

Said its chief executive office Edwin Pang: "We want our players to train hard and concentrate on the sport, but we recognise that they have to think about their post-badminton careers too.

"Even after Ronald reitres, we hope he will continue to be involved in the team because his knowledge and experience are valuable."

With Susilo taking a back seat in the coming months, Lee, 24, is the only senior shuttler left in the 17-member national men's squad.

But Pang believes that young starlets like Derek Wong, Ashton Chen and Febriyan Irvannaldy have the potential to become world-beaters too.

"They may not have Ronald's experience, but they are shaping up pretty well," he said.

"We will miss Ronald, but the other players are ready to fill his shoes."


(I have witnessed most of Ronald's contribution to Singapore Badminton and how he almost single-handedly put Singapore on the badminton world map with his achievements. He certainly deserves recognition and I wish him well in his future endeavours, especially his idea of a badminton academy.)