Susilo turns back clock

Susilo turns back clock
At 35, retired shuttler Ronald Susilo lacks speed and stamina but his precise drop shots and powerful smashes are still intact. He wanted to test his current condition against the younger players, inspire them and promote the sport.

SINGAPORE - The Pilot Pen National Age Group Singles may be an amateur badminton tournament but Singapore's former Olympian Ronald Susilo picked up his racket once again to add a touch of glamour.

He admitted that he lacks speed and stamina these days but the precise drop shots and powerful smashes are still intact as he rolled back the years to win the men's open at the Singapore Badminton Hall in Geylang on Saturday afternoon.

Up against 16-year-old Bernard Ong, the 2005 Sportsman of the Year relied on his experience to outwit the much younger opponent.

Susilo, 35, said: "I changed my style to a more patient and less aggressive one, since I can no longer play the high tempo style I used earlier in my career.

"The younger players are all too impatient in their play, but as they get experience along the way and get to my age, they will learn to be more patient."

Best remembered for defeating China's Lin Dan at the 2004 Olympics, the former national shuttler retired in 2010 and his return to the court surprised the capacity 450 crowd.

Explaining the reason for his participation, Susilo said: "I wanted to participate for fun without any pressure.

"I also wanted to test my current condition against the younger players, inspire them and promote the sport."

Beaten finalist Bernard was certainly inspired, saying: "It was a great experience to play against Ronald, and I learnt a lot from the match. As a junior shuttler, I am honoured to play against him.

"He made plenty of unexpected shots that surprised me."

Pilot Pen general manager Benjamin Teh said: "We introduced the Open category to encourage quality players like Susilo to participate, and this will provide better exposure to other players."

Meanwhile, in the girls' Under-15 competition, unseeded Jaslyn Hooi, 14, toppled top seed Nicolette Tan for a surprise victory, winning 24-22, 21-14 in the final.

Having defeated second seed Sito Jiarong and third seed Mandy Wong in the previous rounds, the Singapore Sports School Secondary 2 student continued her impressive form to top the group.

"I am happy and grateful for the opportunity to play against good players," Jaslyn said of her victory.

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