Jakarta. Tommy Sugiarto’s resignation as Indonesia’s top-seeded men’s singles specialist left a hole in the national training camp that a new crop of young shuttlers are eager to fill.
Currently, Simon Santoso is the only senior shuttler in men’s singles team. Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, Jonatan Christie and Ihsan Maulana Mustofa are also considered top prospects, as are three other young guns on the team: Firman Abdul Kholik, Muhammad Bayu Pangisthu and Riyanto Subagja.
Anthony said he’s sorry to see Tommy leave but ready to grab any opportunity to fill his shoes.
“Tommy’s presence at the camp had pushed our progress as we played as training partner. Who else would be the right sparring partner but our seniors?” said Anthony, the 2013 Youth Olympics winner, at last week’s Djarum Superliga.
“On the other hand, I want to seize the opportunity to fill that empty seat. I think others will do the same. It’s going to get more competitive among the youngsters now.”
Ihsan is another young player with an eye to fill Tommy’s shoes. He was a member of the Thomas Cup team in 2014, although he did not get to play.
“We all know we lack senior players at the camp now,” Ihsan said. “That’s why the youngsters are now working hard to improve our ranking.”
He added it would take some time for youngsters to catch up to their seniors’ skills and rankings.
“I’m aware how people underestimate us, the young shuttlers, and wonder if we can embrace the challenge and pressure of improving quickly. I’ve heard that many times. But for me, I’ll take it to motivate myself to train harder.”
Jonatan showed determination during last week’s event after winning the decider twice — including the one in the Sunday’s finals, when he defeated Ihsan to seal a 3-2 victory for Musica Flypower champion Kudus.
“He is one of the country’s future top shuttlers,” said Musica team manager Effendy Widjaja. “That’s why I decided to recruit him to join the team: To give him more experience in such team events. It will be very useful for him in the future.”
Indonesia has been suffering in men’s singles. Currently, there are no Indonesian shuttlers in the top 10 men’s singles worldwide standings, as Tommy is seeded 11th.
Simon, the only senior shuttler on the national team, is 39th worldwide. Jonatan is the only young shuttler with a ranking in the top 100, at 82nd place.
Former World Champion and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Taufik Hidayat said he’s concerned with current situation.
“I feel sad that there’s no Indonesian shuttler after my era who is competitive enough in the men’s singles,” Taufik said. “That’s why I support the National Badminton Federation to focus more on the youngsters because they are the future of our badminton.”
Taufik says he’s confident, however that the juniors will rise to the challenge.
“But we have to be patient before they can qualify for the Olympics. It takes time.”