Describing Taufik Hidayat the “king of badminton”, world no. 3 woman shuttler Saina Nehwal on Monday said she was delighted to be part of the team that has the former Olympic champion and her childhood hero.
The 23-year-old London Olympics bronze medallist, who is currently preparing for the upcoming World Championship in China next month, said she was looking forward to training with the legendary Indonesian shuttler, who had retired from the sport recently.
He (Taufik) is a role model and a driving force in the game. I’m really happy to be part of the Hyderabad Hotshots team and I was thrilled once he was also included,” said Saina, who bagged a price of $120,000 in the Indian badminton League auction.
“Getting to train and play along with him is going to be brilliant. It will be the best part about playing the league.” Commenting on the Indonesian’s famed charm and looks, Saina, who has a hat-trick of Indonesia Open titles under her belt, said: “Taufik sir is the king of badminton, handsome, talented and very humble. He is extremely energetic on the court and so charming that he makes badminton look easy and simple, though it’s not.” Saina also felt that Hidayat’s presence will be a “great morale booster to Hyderabad Hotshots”.
“I remember playing with him as a mixed double partner for an exhibition match in the Syed Modi Memorial tournament in Lucknow in 2009. I have great memories of that match. I also have a smashing photograph with him, Prakash (Padukone) sir and Gopi (Pullela Gopichand) sir from an event held in Mumbai the same year,“ she reminisced.
Meanwhile, the IBL has asked its franchise Awadhe Warriors (earlier named the Lucknow Warriors) to find a replacement for Thai shuttler Maneepong Jongjit, after the doubles specialist was banned for a three-month period by the Badminton Association of Thailand (BAT). The ban was imposed for provoca tion and misconduct with a fellow player, former doubles partner Bodin Issara, during the recent Canada Open.
In a statement released on Monday, the IBL said its governing council had discussed the matter and decided to respect the views of the BAT. Accordingly, the franchise have been asked to seek a foreign replacement for Jongjit in their remaining budget and inform the organisers in the next 48 hours.