By Wilfred Pilo
KUCHING, Nov 3: Former Indonesian world and Olympic badminton champion Taufik Hidayat and former men’s doubles World No. 1 men’s doubles badminton player Koo Kien Keat are in town.
Today, both of them were the centre of attention at the Multipurpose Indoor Arena at Petra Jaya, on the final day of the 26th World Masters’ Badminton Championship 2019.
Taufik, who is known for his backhand smash was paired with Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah to play an exhibition match against World Chinese Badminton Federation (WCBF) chairman, Wu Jun Yun and Koo, who was once ranked No. 1 in the world with his teammate Tan Boon Heong in the men’s doubles.
In the one-set match of the doubles game, Taufik and Abdul Karim lost 31-27 to Wu and Koo but the enthusiatic crowd made up mostly of local badminton fans and invited players were thrilled and entertained.
The two former world-class players both displayed their amazing skills and it was clear why they were ranked world champions before retiring from the sport.
In an interview later, the 38-year-old Taufik who is in Kuching for the second time said that he was glad to be back here to exhibit and share some of his skills in badminton with his fans.
Taufik, who is a good friend of Malaysian badminton icon and former World No. 1 badminton player Datuk Lee Chong Wei, said he last played a competitive match at the Indonesian Open in 2013, before he hung up his racquet.
He said he hoped youngsters here can become great badminton players such as Lee as there is the availability of good infrastructure and facilities for the sport.
Taufik who played top-level badminton since he was 17, disclosed that he won the Olympic gold medal for badminton in the men’s singles in Athens in 2004. Currently, he is busy working at the badminton academy named after him — the Taufik Hidayat Arena.
Meanwhile, Abdul Karim said the event had attracted 1,900 former professional shuttlers all over the world and is good for sports tourism in Sarawak.
Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Snowdan Lawan, assistant permanent secretary to the Youth and Sports Ministry Nancy Jolhi, Sarawak Sports Corporation CEO Dr Ong Kong Swee, and Club Badminton WCBF Sibu pro-tem chairman Ting Wei Ping were also present. — DayakDaily