A Vincible Difference
Indonesian badminton is loaded with talent when it comes to doubles. But in singles' we still lag behind.
Two young players were battling over the shuttlecock while the others rested. One by one' the lights in the sports hall where the national badminton team had been practicing since morning were being switched off. But the youngsters' Angga Pratama and Rian Agung Saputro' paid no attention. They remained engrossed in their doubles practice with coach Herry Iman Pierngadi. 'Actually' the practice should have only lasted till 11 o'clock'' Herry told Tempo on May 28. Today we practice longer because I was evaluating the results of the Sudirman Cup match yesterday."
The Sudirman Cup championships were held in Malaysia two weeks ago. Indonesia made it to the quarterfinals' losing to China 3-2. Despite the defeat' Indonesia earned praise for the way it battled such a strong opponent.
Badminton partners Angga and Rian increased Indonesia's score by a point after a surprise victory over China's Fu Haifeng and Cai Yun. It was an incisive victory' not only because the Chinese pair are ranked ninth in the world' far above the Indonesian pair' but also because Rian was not at full strength. A day before leaving for Malaysia' Rian got a nosebleed. He was unwell and needed a day's bedrest'" Herry said.
The results in Kuala Lumpur have made Angga (22)' and Rian (23)' the only Indonesian men's doubles badminton players to have broken the ranks of the top 10 men's doubles players in the world. For the past two months' their record has been outstanding: they have won the Australian Open and the New Zealand Open. Before that' they reached the semifinals of the Indian Open.
In the last few months' the Angga-Rian duo can be said to be the highlight of the men's' women's and mixed doubles. They dominated the Grand Prix Gold Australia 2013 tournament in Sydney on April 7' capturing three titles. A week later they won two titles in the New Zealand Open.
The badminton doubles tournament was again in the limelight when the senior doubles pair' Liliyana Natsir and Tantowi Ahmad' completed a hat trick in the Indian Open two weeks later. The pair' ranked second in the world' won the All England 2013 title.
Indonesia has a plethora of talented doubles players. Shuttlers who specialize in doubles usually boast a powerful serve but a weak defensive stance. They need their serve to play fast and stay on the attack. Singles players are the opposite. Their defensive stance is stronger than their serve'" Herry explained.
Right now Indonesia has more doubles than singles talent. Since last January' Indonesia has only won one singles title: the Grand Prix Yonex Sunrise Malaysia Open 2013.
Head singles trainer Joko Supriyanto said the main cause of his players' disappointing performances is physical. Joko blamed this on the training methods employed by his predecessor Li Mao' a China national. Li Mao focused on technique' but Joko said physical stamina was more important for a singles player' who not only must defend the whole court by himself but also needs extra strength to make powerful smashes. That requires tiptop physique'" said Joko' who has been training the players since January.
Joko now is focusing on boosting his players' physical performance. He has them spend far more time on stamina training than technique. The breakdown is 70-30. Joko predicted Indonesian men's singles would need at least three years to rise again. And that is only assuming that the young badminton players whisking about at the national badminton training center courts develop as expected'" he said.
Dwi Riyanto Agustiar