21-year-old shuttler Dionysius Rumbaka just stole the attention of badminton fans by winning three international titles this year, in Romania, Australia and at home in Indonesia. Our local correspondent Vini Damayanti talked to him to find out more about his dreams and hopes.
By: Vini Damayanti, Badzine Correspondent. Photos : RR and Yves Lacroix, Sven Heise, Badmintonphoto
From Air Force to Badminton
As a kid, Hayom never expected that one day he would become a badminton player. His journey to be an athlete started when he was in 5th grade of elementary school. At that time, he often played badminton with his friends on the court located next to his house. His uncle saw his interest in playing and encouraged him to join Pancing Sembada, a badminton club in Sleman, Yogyakarta, Central Java.
“I couldn’t stay in this club for a long time, though, since my parents asked me to quit while I was in my 1st year of junior high school. They preferred to see me practice badminton at home, so that I could continue study at school as well,” Hayom recalled.
Even though he didn’t belong to any club for several years, Hayom, who was born in Kulon Progo, Yogyakarta, on October 22, 1988, still often participated in local tournaments. The year 2005 was a turning point for his career. A coach from PB Djarum, one of the biggest badminton clubs in Indonesia, saw his performance in a tournament in Yogyakarta. He was then recruited by the club, home of famous shuttlers like Liem Swie King and Hariyanto Arbi.
“I never thought that I would take badminton as my profession. My dream in the beginning was to enter the air force. For me, it was a manly job because you have to take part in the war in order to protect the country,” he laughs. “But since playing for Djarum, I have realized that my life is for badminton now. Besides that, my parents give me big support to be a good athlete.”
In the Limelight
A member of PB Djarum since the age of 16, Hayom admitted that he has gained a lot of experience. In these last four years, the player – who likes to play soccer as well – has been sent to some national and international competitions. As a result, his skills have improved. In fact, Hayom not only won several national titles, but also the international ones such as 2009 Astec Ultra-Milk Indonesia International Challenge, Yonex Australia Open Grand Prix, and Banuinvest International Championship in Romania.
“The Banuinvest International was my first international title, so it was very special. But my winning in 2009 Australia Open was also memorable. In that tournament I beat some higher ranked players, including Chan Yan Kit from Hong Kong. That gives me more confidence to play in bigger tournaments.”
Indeed, Hayom is working on improving not only his performance, but also his maturity. The younger shuttler used to rush his shots and sometimes even underestimated his opponents. Now, he has learned from his weaknesses in the past.
“My worst defeat was at the 2007 Philippine Open. I lost early because I didn’t take my opponent seriously, not because my game was lacking. It hurt. Since then, I have learned to focus on the games and not underestimate any opponent.”
Taufik as a Role Model
Hayom’s playing style is unequivocally offensive. He has both a powerful smash and tricky net play. According to him, he has one ‘master’ with respect to his game: Taufik Hidayat.
“Taufik is my idol. My playing style is definitely inspired by him. Unlike me, he is gifted with tremendous skills in playing badminton. I only try my best to play as well as him and practice his tricky shots. I hope one day I will reach high achievements like he has, and even more!”
In the recently concluded 2009 Chinese Taipei Yonex Open, Hayom got the chance to play against his idol in the quarter-final. At this tournament he bowed to Taufik in three games but it was not a disappointing match. He definitely fought very hard, holding Taufik to tight scores.
“I cannot deny that I was very nervous. It was the first time for me to play against him. He is still one of the best players that Indonesia ever had. No wonder I felt a little bit reluctant. I just tried to gain as much skill and experience as I can from him. Hopefully one day I can beat him.”
A new life
It’s not easy to be separated from the family at a young age, but Hayom got through it quite well. Now he lives in Kudus, Central Java, to practice badminton, while his family stays in Yogyakarta. Instead of treating this separation a burden, he prefers to see it from the positive side.
“In order to be a professional player, I have to deal with the consequences. I have to live separately from my family and sometimes I am in pain because of practicing badminton everyday. But all the sorrows disappear when I win a tournament. It is worth it.”
Instead of spending his spare time missing his family, Hayom prefers to hang out with his friends or his girlfriend, or browse the Internet to update his Facebook or friendster account. He also loves to listen to music, especially the songs of Justin Timberlake, Timberland and Akon.
“Sometimes after practicing, I update Facebook or friendster. It’s quite effective to recharge my energy when I feel bored. I also like to watch movies, but the action ones. I don’t like drama. And in order to reduce the pressure before competitions, I always listen to some music.”
Next goal : National Team and World Champion
PBSI has twice invited Hayom to join Pelatnas (Indonesia’s National Training Centre), but he rejected the offers both times. The reason is that he didn’t have enough confidence to represent the country as a national team member. Besides, Hayom also still wanted to gain more experience with Djarum.
“Compared to Pelatnas, I must confess that Djarum usually gives more opportunities to young players to improve their skills by sending them to some international tournaments. That is the reason why I stay with the club. Moreover, I need to improve on my mental fitness before I join Pelatnas.”
Hayom realizes that people in Indonesia have high expectations of their national team players. If a player loses, even to the higher-ranked opponent, she/he will be criticized openly. Joining Pelatnas means he will be demanded to win. But now, Hayom is ready to be drafted to the national team if PBSI makes him another offer.
“Now I have some experience competing in international events. Even though I don’t have much, I have also already made some achievements that give me more confidence to join Pelatnas. My next goal is winning Vietnam Open GP. But of course, my highest ambitions are being a world champion and an Olympic gold medallist.”