JOHOR BARU: There is a renewed zest in Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat since becoming an independent player in January. And he is determined to strike a balance between badminton and business.
Last week, he launched his own range of attire, Taufik Hidayat Line, in a partnership with his sponsors Yonex Sunrise. He also has a team managing his badminton schedule so that he can give total focus on training and tournaments.
“I now have the freedom to do what I want. With the PBSI (All-Indonesia Badminton Federation), I was tied up,” said Taufik, who served the Indonesian national team for about 10 years.
“The beginning was tough because I had to make all the arrangements by myself. Now I have found sponsors and a team, who include my wife, to handle my affairs as far as badminton is concerned.
“I had many dreams when I was with the PBSI but I could not achieve them because I had to follow their rules.
“Now one of my dreams to have my own sports attire is fulfilled. I wore them at the Indonesia Open and I will also use them during the world championships (in India in August) and the Hong Kong Open.
“Now I have the drive again to prove that I can win honours even though I am an independent player.”
Taufik, who trains under Mulyo Handoyo, said that it was not the end of the world when a player left the national set-up.
“It takes a lot of discipline but one needs the money too. It will be tough without sponsors because a player cannot focus if they are constantly bugged by financial problems,” said Taufik.
He added that he took no offence in the PBSI not invite him to represent the country in the Sudirman Cup world mixed team championships.
“As an independent player, I can play in any Open tournaments. But PBSI have the say for tournaments like the Sudirman Cup, SEA Games, the Thomas Cup and the Asian Games,” he said.
“I will play for my country if my services are needed. Otherwise, I will continue to enjoy playing the game in Open tournaments.”
On whether he was back at his best, Taufik said: “For now, the top two players are Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan. I am not close to them yet. Chong Wei is now a superior player compared to three or four years ago.
“I was down with dengue in May and trained for only two weeks prior to the Indonesia Open. I still need to work on my game and I hope I will be well-prepared for the attempt to win the world title for a second time (in Hyderabad in August).”
In the final of the Indonesia Open, Taufik could not keep up with the pace set by Chong Wei and crashed to a tame defeat.
Chong Wei and Taufik are the top two seeds for the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold championships and a rematch is on the cards at the Bandaraya Stadium here on Sunday.