No gold likely for RI this time around
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The Olympic Games in London still have more than a week to go, but Indonesia is unlikely to win any gold medals after two badminton pairs who remained in the running were beaten on Thursday.
To add to the woes, women’s doubles pair Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari were disqualified on Wednesday, along with six other players from China and South Korea for failing to meet the competitiveness standard.
It is Indonesia’s poorest show in the medal race since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, when Indonesian shuttlers won two gold medals when badminton was contested for the first time in the Olympics.
The gold tally later dropped, but the contingent somehow managed to cling on with a one-gold feat until Beijing 2008.
Indonesia’s reversal in London was sealed after world No. 4 Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir were forced to bow out to world No. 2 Xu Chen and Ma Jin of China in a mixed doubles encounter that lasted 75 minutes.
The Indonesians got off to a winning start by taking the opening game 23-21, before fading in the last two games to lose at 18-21 and 13-21.
“I’m disappointed because I can’t present a gold. But we don’t want to get too carried away as there’s still a match for the bronze,” Liliyana said as quoted by Antara after the game.
Earlier, men’s doubles pair Bona Septano and Mohammad Ahsan, No. 6 in the world, fell short of reaching the quarterfinals after losing 12-21, 16-21 to world No. 1 pair Chung Jae-sung and Lee Yong-dae of South Korea.
In the singles matches, the players had already fallen by the wayside. Taufik Hidayat failed to reproduce his winning formula that earned him the title in 2004, and found himself on the losing side against perennial foe and world No. 1 Lin Dan of China. Simon Santoso also was no match for Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei.
In the women’s category, Adrianti Firdasari also failed to live up to the challenge.
While the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) will have an uphill battle of reviving Indonesia’s lost glory, the incident implicating Greysia and Meiliana is expected to get serious attention. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) disqualified them along with another Chinese and two Korean women’s pairs for “not using one’s best efforts to win a match”.
The problem occurred when Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei of China unexpectedly lost the last group match to a Danish duo. The results were believed to prompt fellow Chinese pair Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang to give a lackluster performance in their last match against Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na, because if they beat South Korea in their last group game on Tuesday evening, the two Chinese pairs could have ended up meeting each other in the semifinals.
Greysia and Meiliana and their Korean opponents, Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung, also failed to apply themselves in an apparent effort to lose their last games to avoid stronger opponents in the next stage. That turned the game into a farcical contest, although the Koreans eventually ended up the winners.
House of Representatives sports commission member Dedi S. Gumelar expressed disappointment with the incident. “There’s no sportsmanship in deliberately avoiding a tougher opponent … to proceed to the next level. It’s something athletes shouldn’t do,” said the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician in the House.
Therefore, we need to get honest clarification from both the PBSI and the athletes.”
Youth and Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng said he had asked the BWF to review the competition system in order to prevent a recurrence of the incident.
PBSI secretary-general Yacob Rusdianto refused to comment on whether the PBSI should sanction the players. He said it was part of the Indonesian badminton squad’s strategy not to meet Chinese opponents.
Margareth S. Aritonang contributed reporting