PBL: Fruitful journey for Indonesia’s veteran duo

Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia, gold medallists at Beijing 2008, are still going strong in doubles at the age of 33.

The PBL is getting better every year, observe Hendra Setiawan (left) and Markis Kido   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

On a Sunday teeming with spectators at the Nehru Indoor Stadium here, Hyderabad Hunters took on Awadhe Warriors in the Premier Badminton League.

The crowd enjoyed the men’s doubles with loud whistles and cheers. And one portly man regaled those gathered with jumping smashes and razor-sharp reflexes at the net. Markis Kido of Indonesia, playing for Hyderabad, used his experience to good effect with wonderful tactical play to guide his partner Yoo Yoon Seong to win the first match.

The 33-year-old is no ordinary player. He is a former Olympic gold medallist (’08 Beijing) and world champion (’07) in men’s doubles with Hendra Setiawan. The pair was ranked No. 1 in 2007 and their friendship is still strong even though they have split for six years. “We still talk and there is no problem (with our friendship),” said Setiawan, who plays for Awadhe Warriors.

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Starting their careers from the same club, Jaya Raya BC, it was a coach at the club who asked them to pair up in 1997. While Kido has 10 Super Series titles, Setiawan has bagged 18. For all their triumphs, it was the Olympic gold that was the icing on the cake.

Beijing gold ‘special’

Winning the Beijing Olympic gold was a dream come true that made them one of the best pairs in the world, says Setiawan. “We were thrilled. Winning in Beijing was special as the competition was tougher,” he said.

“We rate it much higher than the 2007 world championship win,” said Kido.

The failure of the pair to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics was one of the main reasons for the split, according to Setiawan. “That time we didn’t qualify for London. I wanted some new challenges with a new partner,” he said.

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With new partners and age catching up, Kido is partnering Hendra Aprida (for the last three years) while Setiawan has paired with Boon Heong Tan for the last one year. Their rankings have gone down; Kido is ranked 59 while Setiawan is ranked 20. But that doesn’t bother them. “We are not worried about that. We will do our best. Also, you should understand we both are 33 years old,” said Setiawan.

Playing in PBL has give them a new lease of life, respect and recognition. “We like coming to India, and we should say this: PBL is getting better and better with every passing year,” said Setiawan, who has two won two more world championship titles (‘13 & ‘15) with Mohd Ahsan.