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Indonesia hails All England champions

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The two pairs of All England champions, Hendra Setiawan/Mohammad Ahsan and Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir, arrived Tuesday at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang to a heroes welcome, having earned Indonesia two of five titles at the All England badminton championships, the world’s oldest badminton competition.

Joining the enthusiastic fans at the airport’s Terminal 2D were former champions Candra Wijaya and Sigit Budiarto, together with Youth and Sports Minister Roy Suryo, Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) deputy chairman Fuad Basya and PBSI secretary-general Anton Subowo.

Several fans were seen carrying posters of the champions.

“Hendra, Ahsan — Owi, Butet,” they screamed, calling out the champions’ names. Butet is Liliyana’s nickname, while Owi referred to Tontowi.

Tontowi and Liliyana defeated China’s Olympic champions, Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei, 21-13, 21-17 on Sunday in a repeat of last year’s mixed doubles final. The win gave the Indonesian duo their third All England title, after winning in 2012 and 2013.

For Liliyana, it was her fifth final, the first two being in 2008 and 2010 that she lost alongside Nova Widhianto.

Meanwhile, Hendra and Ahsan clinched their first All England title by defeating Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa 21-19, 21-19 in the men’s doubles final, breaking Indonesia’s 11-year drought since Candra Wijaya and Sigit Budiarto clinched the title in 2003.

“I want to show my appreciation to Hendra and Ahsan for bringing the All England title home again this year. This is a remarkable achievement,” Candra told journalists.

“They deserved to win. This is all due to their hard work and positive conditions [at the PBSI], which allows them to focus fully on each tournament” he said.

Fuad thanked the champions for what they had done for the nation.

“You are the country’s assets and you deserve to be acknowledged [internationally],” he said.

Roy said he hoped that the players’ success could see national badminton revive its past glory.

“This is the success of a team and the nation,” he said.

He attributed the success partly to the PBSI’s open management style regarding its athletes.

“Good management can bring about optimal results,” he said.

Roy added, however, that there was still much to be done as the generation to follow Hendra/Ahsan and Tontowi/Liliyana was not yet ready to take up the challenge.

Hendra and Ahsan are looking ahead, with the Thomas Cup, Asian Games and World Championships their future targets.

Liliyana, meanwhile, said that she and Tontowi would not become too preoccupied by their achievement. “We will maintain our hunger to win.”

While the men’s and mixed doubles saw Indonesia take the All England honors at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, the other three events — the men’s and women’s singles and women’s doubles — saw Indonesian shuttlers fall short of the quarterfinals.


Last changed: Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 2:44 pm

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