Jakarta. Indonesian mixed doubles pair Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir on Sunday added another title to their stellar shuttling career by winning the Asia Championships. The three-time All England champions ousted Reginald Lee Chun Hei and Chau Hoi Wah 21-16, 21-15 in the final of the event held in Wuhan, China. The victory gives the Indonesians a 3-0 lead over the Hong Kong pair.
“We are excited to come out as champions here. The title is such a good relief after we came out empty handed at the first three Superseries tournaments; All England, Malaysia Open, and Singapore Open,” Liliyana was quoted as saying by badmintonindonesia.org. “I hope it can give us a motivational boost to face the coming tournaments and to collect more titles.”
“We will still need to improve as soon as we return to the training camp for our biggest goal, the Olympic title. I hope we can continue our best performance in the coming competitions, including the Sudirman Cup,” Tontowi added.
After enjoying a bye and a walkover win in the early stages, the Indonesians started their title campaign by facing Chinese Kai Lu and Huang Yaqiong in the last eight. The 2013 World Champions won the match, 21-19, 21-11, to earn their semifinal berth and set up another clash with other Chinese rivals Xu Chen and Ma Jin. The Indonesians claimed a 21-12, 21-15 victory to advance to the final.
The Hong Kong pair earned their final berth after defeating Indonesian shuttlers Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto, in another semifinal. Men’s doubles pair Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan came out as runners-up after they were defeated by South Koreans Lee Yong-dae and Yoo Yeon-seong, 18-21, 24-22, 21-19.
PBSI official to lead Asia confederation
Separately, Indonesia saw another success this weekend as Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) secretary-general Anton Subowo was elected as the 2015-19 Badminton Asia Confederation president by acclamation, after two other candidates from India and Thailand decided to pull out to give their votes to the Indonesian contender.
“The acclamation, I think, brings with it a positive spirit [that is needed] to keep the unity ... among member countries alive,” said Anton.
Anton said he hoped he would help boost the development of the sport outside Indonesia.
“My first goal is to make the organization stronger, which requires solidity among its member countries. Several incidents in the past have divided us, which cost us the latest Badminton World Federation presidential election. We missed this chance while 80 percent of the world’s top ten players are Asians. I know Indonesia can play its role to unite the member countries,” Anton said, as quoted by badmintonindonesia.org.
Of the 42 Asian member countries, around 30 still need help to develop the game. Anton said he wanted to organize regional leagues.
“They need the hand of the powerhouse countries to help them develop the sport. These countries are in the Middle East, the South Asians and Central Asians. Organizing a league in each region is the best way. We don’t want to see these countries send their players to a tournament only to lose in the early stages.”
Anton is now also the BWF vice president, representing Asia in the world’s governing badminton body.
“Asia might have been dominant in badminton, but many Europeans sit in the Federation now. This gives Europe more advantages. I hope I can represent Asia in voicing our thoughts to the world,” said Anton.
PBSI president Gita Wirjawan congratulated the players and Anton for their achievements. “I wish Asian badminton would improve and more countries would play the sport,” Gita said.