Badminton duo adamant Olympics delay won’t derail record-breaking bid

Indonesia‘s Mohammad Ahsan (left) and Setiawan Hendra (right) pose with their gold medals on the podium after winning the men’s doubles gold medal badminton match at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon September 28, 2014. — Reuters pic
Indonesia‘s Mohammad Ahsan (left) and Setiawan Hendra (right) pose with their gold medals on the podium after winning the men’s doubles gold medal badminton match at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon September 28, 2014. — Reuters pic

JAKARTA, March 30 — The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics has dampened the hopes of Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan of becoming the sport’s oldest gold medallists, but the pair is determined to stay in shape by restructuring their training programme.

A new date for the Games, postponed last week due to the coronavirus pandemic, has not been fixed but Japanese media reports said the organisers are looking at July-August next year.

Setiawan and Ahsan, known as the “Daddies” and currently ranked second in the world in doubles, have lost just three matches this season, but coach Herry Iman Pierngadi is unsure whether the pair can sustain their form and fitness until next year.

“As they age, it’ll be tough to maintain their physical condition, so the preparation has to be special,” Herry told Indonesian sports portal detikSport.

Ahsan and Setiawan, 32 and 35 respectively, have bounced back remarkably well after a shock group stage exit at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The pair became world champions for the third time in Basel last year before clinching the season-ending World Tour Finals crown in Guangzhou.

Setiawan is adamant they will have plenty left in the tank for the Olympics next year.

A win would make the duo the oldest pair to win badminton gold, while Setiawan would become the oldest badminton champion. China’s Zhang Ning was 33 when she won the women’s singles title in Beijing in 2008.

“The Olympics is our ultimate target,” Setiawan said. “Now, we just have to figure out ways to stay in top shape until next year.” — Reuters

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