Badminton star Hidayat outburst over media no-show

Singapore: Badminton star Taufik Hidayat angrily lashed media on Wednesday for giving him a "bad name" after he missed a press conference, while Chinese legend Lin Dan offered a grovelling apology.

Hidayat said Indonesian press had accused him of lacking professionalism for not meeting journalists before this week`s Singapore Open, but he insisted he was never told about Monday`s media commitment.

The outspoken 2004 Olympic gold medallist opened fire immediately after scraping through his first-round match 22-24, 21-12, 21-18 against Malaysian qualifier Daren Liew.

"I`m sorry about not coming for the press conference on Monday, but the media said I`m not professional. How come I`m not professional?" Hidayat asked.

"You tell me one hour before (about the press conference) so why do you write in the Indonesian media that I`m not professional? It gives me a bad name," he fumed.

"It`s big. In Indonesia, badminton is big. My name is bad about it through the media. I never said `no` to the press conference."

A tournament official said Hidayat and defending champion Sony Dwi Kuncoro were never told about the press commitment, which China`s Lin skipped with a stomach upset.

"If the player did not receive the message it`s not the fault of the player," said media director Rose Tan.

India`s Saina Nehwal turned up so late the press conference room was closed, while five Chinese players who did come for interview looked bad-tempered and angered journalists with their short answers.

The incidents provided further negative headlines for badminton after its much-criticised attempt to force women players to wear skirts, in a bid to attract more fans.

Chinese mega-star Lin, the reigning Olympic champion and the only player to complete badminton`s "Golden Grand Slam" of the eight biggest titles, gave an unreserved apology for failing to attend.

"I sincerely apologise for my absence and for letting the local media wait. It has been a long time since I played in Singapore and I am very excited to be here. I feel better today and I do apologise again for my absence," he said.

"In order to make badminton a more popular sport, we have to combine our efforts and do what we can to make it popular worldwide. It is not just about getting a gold medal."

Badminton officials said they accepted the explanation and would not fine Lin, who romped through his opening match 21-14, 21-15 against South Korea`s Shon Wan-Ho.

Meanwhile Hidayat put the Singapore Indoor Stadium crowd through one of his traditional first-round scares, but came through a tight deciding set when the inexperienced Liew pushed a smash and a net parry long.

"My coach always says it`s scary when I play the first round. It`s always like that, so many mistakes like today," he said.

"In the third set when Daren was leading, I was just thinking tomorrow I go back to Indonesia if I lose. But point by point I tried to reconstruct. And then he made so many mistakes in the last points -- thanks Daren!"

In the women`s draw, China`s "Three Wangs" -- Shixian, Yihan and Xin, who top the seedings -- all enjoyed comfortable wins.

The Singapore Open is the fifth leg of badminton`s 12-stop Super Series and also carries qualification points towards next year`s London Olympics.

Bureau Report

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