Chance for Olympians Hendra-Ahsan to be oldest champs takes a hit

The postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games to next year may have put paid to the hopes of world No. 2 Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia to become the oldest winners in badminton.

Hendra will be 37 next year while Ahsan 34.

Hendra and Ahsan are in top form now but it’s unsure whether the talented players could sustain their current level of performance in the next 16 months or so. The dates for the Games have not been fixed but it could be between July and August next year.

Even Indonesia coach Herry Iman Pierngadi admitted that odds were heavily stacked against the veteran duo, and said they would need a “very special” programme to stay at the top of their game.

“As they age, it’ll be tough to maintain their physical condition, so the preparation has to be special, ” Herry told Indonesian sports portal detikSport.

Hendra, who had previously won Olympics gold with Markis Kido in Beijing 2008, is adamant that they would do just fine as long as they stay hungry for glory.

“The Olympics is our ultimate target, we are motivated. Now, we just have to figure out ways to stay in top shape until next year.”

Hendra-Ahsan are giving their partnership a second chance following a disastrous Rio 2016 campaign when they were ousted in the group stage despite being the second seeds.

They’ve made remarkable comeback from the flop to become the world champions for the third time in Basel last year, adding to their previous crowns in 2013 and 2015. They’ve also won several other major titles, including last year’s All-England and their third World Tour Finals crown.

If they were to pull off a stunning success next year, Hendra-Ahsan will become the oldest badminton gold medallists at the Olympics.

The current record is held by China’s Zhang Ning, who was 33, when she won the women’s singles title in Beijing 2008.

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