Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia is certainly pinning high hopes on grabbing gold medals in badminton during the 18th Asian Games to be held in Jakarta and Palembang next year.
Indonesia has, so far, been known for its superiority in the sport, although its dominance has declined recently. Nonetheless, it still has capable players to overcome challenges from other countries, such as China, Malaysia, Denmark, or South Korea, that also have strong players, especially in the mens and womens as well as mixed doubles events.
Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo recently won the sixth championship title within a year to equalize the record made by the South Korean mens doubles pair Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong.
Witnessing the performance of Gideon and Sukamuljo at the China Open and Hong Kong Open super series recently, it is not too far-fetched to say that they do hold high prospects of winning a gold medal at the next Asian Games.
The Indonesian top mens doubles pair won the sixth super series badminton championship at the Hong Kong Open on Nov 26, beating Mads Conrad Petersen and Mads Pieler Kolding from Denmark in straight sets 21-12, 21-18.
Earlier, Gideon and Sukamuljo had also successfully clinched a championship title at the China Open on Nov 19 after beating Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen, 21-19, 21-11.
Although the Indonesian womens doubles pair Greysia Polii and Apriani Rahayu failed to secure a title after surrendering to the Chinese pair Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan at the Hong Kong Open in the final round of the tournament, they still proved to be tough to beat, raising hopes that they could still be relied upon for winning medals at the Asian Games.
Polii and Rahayu surrendered but only after the Chinese players were compelled to play a match of three-games 21-14, 16-21, 15-21, demonstrating that they were tough to defeat.
The Chinese pair suffered a loss against the Indonesian rivals at the Paris Open 2017 in late October.
National coach for the womens doubles of the All Indonesia Badminton Association (PBSI) Eng Hian said Polii and Rahayu had been given a target to win a gold medal in the Asian Games.
He expressed optimism that the pair could achieve the target in view of the achievements made by the combination of senior-junior players at international events this year.
Indonesian mixed doubles pair Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir successfully beat first-seeded pair Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen from China, 22-20, 22-15, at the French Open to become the champions of the super series tournament.
Citing the achievement of Gideon and Sukamuljo, former mens singles world champion Haryanto Arbi recently noted that the mens doubles and team events could be relied upon for winning gold medals.
Indonesias mens doubles legend Ricky Subagja, who is now PBSIs head of the media and public relations division, shared Arbis viewpoint, citing several tournaments, including the All England Open in March, as good events to prepare them for the Asian Games.
The PBSI is currently preparing for a trial match expected to be held at the Istora Senayan stadium.
"We have sent a letter to the Indonesia Asian Games Organizing Committee (INASGOC) seeking a permit to use the stadium, but, so far, we have not received a reply," Achmad Budiharto, PBSIs secretary general, noted.
The PBSI is optimistic that the Indonesia Masters 2018 tournament, to be held in January 2018 and involving players from 20 countries, would serve as a test arena for its players who will participate in the Asian Games, he remarked.
He expressed hope that the tournament would be held at the Istora Senayan, adding that it will help the PBSI to reduce the cost of holding official trial matches scheduled in February 2018.
To meet the requirements of the Olympic Committee of Asia, badminton has been included in the Asian Games test championships to be held in February along with nine other sports: football, athletics, archery, basketball, boxing, martial arts, taekwondo, indoor volleyball, and weightlifting.
Indonesia has set a target of finishing among the top 10 in the medals tally at the Asian Games; thus, it must collect 15 to 20 gold medals from 38 out of the 40 events it will compete in at Asias biggest sporting event.
To achieve the target, sports, with potential to win gold medals, will be selected to be given special attention. Efforts, so far, are still being undertaken to determine them, but the decision is expected to be made in December.
Initially, 23 sports were to be prioritized, but the figure has been reduced to 16.
To this end, efforts are still ongoing to reach a final decision this month in line with the deadline set by the office of the coordinating minister for human resources development and culture for making the budget proposals.
"We have made predictions on how many medals the Indonesian athletes could win in various sports. The number is still being reviewed until the end of December when the final decision must be taken," Coordinating Minister for Human Resources Development and Culture Puan Maharani stated.
She said the countrys target of finishing among the top 10 will not be changed following the decision to scale down the number of priority sports to 16.
Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi admitted that coordination will be necessary to avoid the perception that the target was lower or higher, adding there is still time until the end of December.
Tono Suratman, general chairman of the Indonesia National Sports Committee, remarked that he had revised the number based on realistic possibilities of winning medals in sports.
"Indeed, it may possibly be increased, but that is not the goal. The principle is that in all 40 sports, we must give our best, but 16 of them should be prioritized. All will be treated the same. The only difference will be regarding the tryouts," he remarked.
Suratman declined to elaborate on potential medals that Indonesia could win, saying only that the office of the coordinating minister for human resources development and culture, the sports ministry, KONI, and all sports branches must work together to achieve the target.
Source: ANTARA News