The Jakarta Post
Once a promising badminton player, Sony Dwi Kuncoro now finds life on court difficult to handle, after his performance cost him a place at the national training facility.
The 30-year-old was kicked out of the Cipayung training camp last year following a string of below-par tournament performances, partly due to nagging injuries.
Despite the disappointment, the Athens Olympic bronze medalist still cherished his 13-year stint at the training camp.
'I was at Pelatnas [national training camp] for 13 years. I enjoyed every moment when I was part of the camp. As everything was arranged, I could focus my attention on the tournaments I was participating in,' he told journalists after his shock early exit from the BCA Indonesia Open badminton championship on Tuesday.
He was forced to bow out by 18-year-old Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in a qualifying match.
The Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) decided to let him go last year for failing to meet targets set by the organization.
Being relegated, Sony said, disappointed him so much that he refused to take part in several tournaments. His world ranking dropped to as low as 113 early this month. His highest ranking was number three in October 2004.
Most of his juniors' world rankings are way above his, including Andre Kurniawan Tedjono ( 38 ), Jonatan Christie ( 53 ) and Firman Abdul Kholik ( 66 ).
'When I heard that they let me go, I decided to go back to my hometown of Surabaya, East Java, even though I had not received the [notification] letter yet,' he said.
'I refused to play or even train. I felt I had lost track of my life goal. I did not know what to do outside [the camp],' he added.
Sony said he took around three months off from badminton, thinking that everything would be alright in the end, but he was wrong.
The time he spent away from the sport eventually brought a feeling of ease, but the worst thing was that people began to forget him.
'Some players that I could beat easily in the past have now come up stronger,' he said, laughing bitterly.
'Even though I want to participate in a tournament, I have to be on a waiting list. I also have to start from scratch finding sponsors from shoes to rackets,' he said.
It is only in the last few months that he has started to rise from his decline, signing up with the Tjakrindo Masters badminton club in Surabaya.
'Now I'm in the process of mending my life. I tried to participate in many local tournaments just to find proper sparring partners and experience the spirit of competition,' he went on.
He said he now realized that the biggest enemy on court was not the opponents he played against but himself.
'If we do not have motivation, we will never rise from a slump,' he said.
He might have his motivation back, but the BCA event proved he has yet to recover from rusty skills.