March 6, 2015 / 9:49 AM / in 3 years

Indonesia struggling to nurture another world champion

BIRMINGHAM, March 6 (Reuters) - The thought of watching “so-so” Indonesian singles players doesn’t sit well with Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat.

In a year when Jakarta stages the world championships for the first time since 1989, Taufik remains Indonesia’s last singles world champion in 2005.

The men’s team has found itself in an unstable position following the decision by three of its four top 40 players to leave the national set-up.

With Olympic qualification due to start on May 1, the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) also has a decision to make on selection criteria ahead of Rio 2016.

World number 11 Tommy Sugiarto is the brightest prospect, but he left the national program for the second time in January after failing to find the right balance of coaches.

Ricky Subagja, an Olympic doubles’ champion and the PBSI’s team manager at the All-England Championships this week, said that there were now eight junior players in the national team and prospects were bright.

“The PBSI are concerned for the players in the national team and we will have to look at the process (for Olympic qualification),” he told Reuters.

“We are really preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Games.”

Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka, Indonesia’s number two, beat a flu-ridden Sugiarto in an all-Indonesian first round clash at the All-England this week, but he is another who has opted to train away from the national program.

“We still have several years to find the next Taufik,” admitted Dionysius.

“We can’t expect it as we aren’t in the national team, so maybe the juniors are the best place. If people think that I am the next Taufik, then it will be hard for me.”

At least Dionysius, the world number 23, admits that the lions’ den atmosphere at Jakarta’s iconic Istora Senayan Stadium will suit him when the world championships are held in August.

“It makes me feel spiritual to play in front of a home crowd. Some find the pressure too much, but I am really confident.”

It is a quality that Taufik, who retired in 2013, is searching for in a player.

“I want to watch a good quick player who is something special,” the 2005 world champion said.

Editing by Patrick Johnston

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