REUTERS - Stinging criticism from several leading current and former Indonesian badminton players over the state of the sport in the country has left officials on the back foot ahead of this year’s London Olympics.
The Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) accepted the team had badly underperformed at the recent Thomas and Uber Cup in Wuhan, China.
In a bid at damage control before the London Games, which open on July 27, PBSI general secretary Yacob Rusdianto told the Jakarta Post the body “gladly welcomed” the feedback.
The PBSI were responding to a petition sent by furious players demanding a transparent probe into Indonesia’s dramatic fall from grace in badminton.
“What the PBSI has done so far - upgrading the national training camp’s facilities, providing physical coaches, doctors and psychologists - all came from their suggestions,” insisted Yacob.
He also promised an evaluation of Indonesia’s Wuhan flop would come soon but did not pull any punches over the team’s performances.
“In singles, we indeed were in deep trouble,” said Yacob, underlining the concerns of the PBSI’s critics by adding: “Also our opponents performed better than us.”
Indonesia, winner of a record 13 Thomas Cups, were embarrassed by Japan in the quarter-finals, prompting an angry reaction.
“We’re still trying to figure out what went wrong,” said Yacob, smarting from an outburst from 2004 Athens Olympic champions Taufik Hidayat.
“The togetherness among team members on this year’s Thomas and Uber Cup no longer existed,” said Hidayat, who suffered an upset loss by Japan’s Kenichi Tago.
Hidayat lamented that players did not socialise or pray together before or after matches.
“I’ve been on the Thomas Cup team seven times and this was a first,” he fumed.
“One of the team members decided to go to Papua for some exhibition event two days before our departure (for China). The PBSI let him go. Where is the patriotism?”
Ivana Lie, 1982 Asian Games gold medallist, accused PBSI officials of ignoring former players, laying the blame at the door of the body’s under-fire chief Djoko Santoso.
She and several players turned on Chinese-born coach Li Mao, claiming it was wrong to appoint foreigners.
“There’s so much mismanagement,” Lie said. “Directly appointing a foreign coach... should be under the sports development division, but in reality, it wasn‘t.”
Reporting by Alastair Himmer in Tokyo; Editing by John O'Brien