By Terrence Voon
Ronald Susilo has been picked to lead Singapore’s medal charge in badminton at the 2008 Olympics.
The 28-year-old shuttler was selected this week by the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) to play in the men’s singles event in Beijing – at the expense of compatriot Kendrick Lee.
SBA was put in a quandary because of the rules set by the Badminton World Federation.
Under BWF regulations, its monthly world rankings in May were used to determine Olympic qualification.
Only the top 38 players in the rankings will receive qualifying places for the singles events.
Susilo was ranked 17th, while Lee was placed 21st.
But, for players ranked 17th and below, the BWF has ruled that each country can send only one representative.
This meant that either Susilo or Lee had to sit out the Olympics.
Explaining its choice, SBA’s chief of high performance and development Jacqueline Lim said Susilo stood a higher chance of winning a medal.
‘Ronald is injury-free and training well,’ she said. ‘Our coaches have assessed potential opponents at the Olympics, and he stands a better chance of beating them.’
Susilo also has the advantage of experience. At the 2004 Athens Olympics, the Indonesian-born shuttler ousted world No 1 Lin Dan en route to a spot in the quarter-finals.
Lee has never played at the Olympics. But, last year, he won the Dutch Open and was the first Singaporean in 26 years to reach the men’s singles final at the South-east Asia Games.
At 23, Lee has age on his side. He will be 27 come the next Olympics, and is likely to get another shot at qualification.
Meanwhile, Susilo’s name was put on a list that was submitted to the Singapore National Olympic Council and the BWF for approval.
Also on the Olympic list: Xing Aiying (women’s singles), Li Yujia and Jiang Yanmei (women’s doubles), and Li and Hendri Saputra (mixed doubles).
To warm up for Beijing, the Singapore stars will be out in full force at the Aviva Open Singapore from June 10-15 and the Indonesian Open (June 17-22).
They will then travel to Seoul next month to train and spar with top South Korean players.
Said Lim: ‘Our mission is to win a medal. Hopefully, with all the preparation and the rest time we have set aside, we will peak at the Olympics.’