Thursday, January 10, 2008

Indonesia enjoys clean sweep in badminton

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh and Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima

Coming in at full speed, Indonesia took advantage of the absence of Malaysia's top shuttlers at the SEA Games to make a record clean sweep of seven gold medals from the badminton court here on Friday.

Indonesia won the first two from the men's and women's teams on Tuesday.

Olympic gold medalist Taufik Hidayat outclassed world No. 24 Kendrick Lee Yen Hui of Singapore in the men's singles finals, 21-15, 21-9.

With Friday's victory, the world No. 7 made a 3-0 record win over the Singaporean. The last time he defeated Lee was in Denmark Super Series in October.

"I'm glad to win the gold," he said.

In the women's singles, Maria Kristin Yulianti beat Adriyanti Firdasari 21-16, 21-15 in an all-Indonesian final.

The women's doubles final also saw two national pairs competing against each other. Old hands Lilyana Natsir and Vita Marissa were too powerful for juniors Jo Novita and Greysia Polii, winning 21-15, 21-14.

In the mixed doubles, Indonesian No. 2 Flandy Limpele and Vita dashed the home crowd's hopes of seeing locals Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam take the gold, crushing the Thais 21-14, 21-15.

World champions Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan also thrashed Hendri Kurniawan Saputra and Hendra Wijaya of Singapore 21-17, 21-12 to win the seventh gold for Indonesia's badminton squad.

The gold party had been predicted by critics, who complained about the Badminton Association of Indonesia's (PBSI) decision to send its top shuttlers to the competition.

They called on Indonesia to follow Malaysia, which opted to rest its top shuttlers in a bid to improve their preparations for next year's Super Series tournaments, which will be the qualifying events for the Beijing Olympics.

PBSI head of training Lius Pongoh said that the association had no choice but to field the seniors to help the national squad meet its target of 65 gold medals to finish fourth in the standing.

"We have to fulfill the target. However, we realize that we have to take gutsy action to give our young shuttlers more international experience to help them shine in the future," he said.

PBSI chairman Sutiyoso, who witnessed the matches, hailed his players successes, saying it was the first time in history that Indonesia took all the gold medals at stake during the biannual event. Indonesia won four gold, five silver and one bronze from badminton in the 2005 SEA Games in the Philippines.

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