The Jakarta Post, Madrid
As mighty as the Great Wall is the best way to describe the domination of the Chinese women's badminton team. They have carried off the women's singles world champion title almost every year since former badminton queen Li Lingwei won it in 1983. Their perfect record was only broken by Indonesian Susy Susanti in 1993 and Camilla Martin of Denmark in 1999.
The same goes for the Chinese women's doubles. Only in 1995 did the South Korean pair of Gil Joung Ah/Jang Hye Ock take over the title before Chinese Ge Fei/Gu Jun extended the Chinese winning streak from 1997 onward.
The Chinese training system of having a national training camp and training centers in the provinces has been imitated by other countries, whose players previously only trained individually in their own cities or clubs.
For Indian Trupti Murgunde, who plays both women's singles and doubles, the training system has not only improved her own performance but the country's international standing.
The development of badminton in India has been improving since we applied the Chinese method, she said late Tuesday.
Starting this year, we plan to have a training camp throughout the year but for the World Championships, we only had a two-month training stint together.
Aside from China, the world's badminton powerhouse, Murgunde was upbeat that her country is nearing other badminton-strong countries like South Korea and Indonesia in Asia and Denmark and England in Europe.
Considering that badminton is less popular than cricket and field hockey in India, having players in the top 50s is quite an achievement, said Murgunde, who trained at the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy. Padukone was a badminton star in the 1980s.
Murgunde offered the example of competitions in Asia that help badminton-developing countries like India improve their players' skills.
I think Asia offers more competitions compared to Europe and that's why Asian countries can perform better in a shorter time, said the 24-year-old who won the bronze at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
As for the development of badminton in Europe, outside Denmark and England, France's Indonesian-born Weny Rahmawati, who has spent five years playing for the country, highlighted the lack of attention to young players' development.
The situation has improved now. We have domestic leagues and divisions for young players. France has also sent its national players for training overseas, usually in cooperation with clubs in Indonesia, said Weny who started out in Paris as a training partner.
Weny said that France, and a number of other European countries, had adopted the Asian-style training method.
Through the training method, we have improved our performance in international tournaments.
If those countries have started to imitate China's training system, what about Indonesia?
The ousting of women's doubles Jo Novita/Greysia Polii against women's doubles top seeds Gao Ling and Huang Sui of China 21-11, 21-17 on Wednesday was predicted. But Fransisca Nana Ratnasari's defeat against Malaysian Wong Mew Choo 21-19, 21-8 came as a shock as the Indonesian 20-year-old had been penciled in for an encounter with top seed Zhang Ning of China in the third round.
It would be unfair to judge the Indonesian women from their poor show here as the cash-strapped Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) has slashed their competition schedule.
Without competition, the (women's) players will always stay inexpe- rienced. They should go to one-, two-star tournaments until they can win, before going on to a higher level of competition, men's singles coach Hendrawan said recently.
Indonesia already has a training system much like China's but its progress has been limited by the coaches' technical skills and the wide gaps that exist between the abilities of the national players and those outside Java.
The fact that a number of countries have worked together with the PBSI and Indonesian clubs shows that Indonesia has the potential to exceed China as it did in the '80s and '90s.
If India and France are working hard to catch up to China and other bad- minton powerhouses, the PBSI should move away from its glory days during the era of Olympic medalists Susy Susanti and Mia Audina. If it is time for the PBSI to learn from other countries and be the student, then it should not hesitate to do so, for the sake of the sport's development.