Forget the past and move on, Rudy Hartono tells P.V. Sindhu

Badminton legend Rudy Hartono Kurniawan believes India shuttler, P.V. Sindhu, can win gold at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Rudy Hartono Kurniawan at the HATSUN Badminton Centre in Virudhunagar on Friday.   -  R. Ashok

Badminton legend Rudy Hartono Kurniawan threw his weight behind India shuttler P.V. Sindhu, saying she would pocket gold at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 at a media interaction at the HATSUN Badminton Centre in Virudhunagar here on Thursday.

The Indonesian, who won the men's singles title at the prestigious All-England Championship eight times, is in the country to train students at the  academy. And he backed India’s 23-year-old saying, “The qualification process for 2020 Olympics starts in April 2019. She should forget the past and move on. I would like to see her prepare well for big tournaments, such as the All England, World Championship and the Olympics. In my opinion, she will win [gold] at Tokyo.”

 

Since 2016, Sindhu has lost nine major titles--she ended up being a runner-up in Rio Olympics, Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast and Asian Games in Jakarta -- but even then she drew praises from Hartono.

“She attacks too much. When you do the same thing over and over again, your opponent will start reading your game. But, Sindhu can achieve a lot more and hopefully, it will happen in the coming years,” Hartono, who is currently a member of the Board of Honour at PBSI (Badminton Association of Indonesia) added.

Rudy Hartono Kurniawan interacts with youngsters at the HATSUN Badminton Centre in Virudhunagar on Friday.   -  R. Ashok

 

“Thing is, India depends a lot on a couple of players, resulting in a burden on them when they walk into tournaments. Why not have a few more players? China has a world class player in every category. The population here is huge and India is capable of producing more players at the highest level,” Hartono added.

In 1968, Hartono, then 18-year-old, became the youngest ever to win the All England Open title, beating Malaysia’s Tan Aik Huang. From then on, Hartono dominated the tournament, winning eight titles in all, from 1968 to 1976. This incredible feat earned Hartono a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records.

World No 10 Lin Dan qualified for the All England Open a record tenth time in 2018, but failed to win the title, going down to compatriot Shi Yuqi, keeping his title count six, unchanged. When asked whether he considers the Chinese still a threat to his record he laughs.

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“Lin Dan has already proved himself. But he has lost against me. He will not get seven titles in a row, so I lead that one,” joked the IBF (now BWF) Herbert Scheele awardee.

India has not seen a single major title in singles this year, though Saina Nehwal clinched one at the Gold Coast.

"Lin Dan has already proved himself. But he has lost against me. He will not get seven titles in a row, so I lead that one..."

However, Hartono was all about backing India as he said, “I don't think India lacks in any regard. The likes of Sindhu and Srikanth are proof. They are world class. But they must prepare to get to the very top level. You need to win the top tournaments. That is what is important. When you do that, then you are ready. What they are doing now is only one step.”

With the Indonesian and now Chinese domination in badminton practically non-existent, with Asians and Europeans now coming into the fold, Hartono believes that the sport has grown through all these years, gradually evolving as a global sport. “People have caught up with changes and adapted. Length of the game, style. Happened many times, over the years,” he signed off.