Asean Para Games: Shuttler Suryo Nugroho's big comeback

Indonesia's Suryo Nugroho (right) beat Malaysia's Mohamad Faris Ahmad Azri in the men's team badminton final yesterday. Having lost his left arm at 12, he went on to become his country's top para-shuttler.
Indonesia's Suryo Nugroho (right) beat Malaysia's Mohamad Faris Ahmad Azri in the men's team badminton final yesterday. Having lost his left arm at 12, he went on to become his country's top para-shuttler.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

He leads Indonesian team to victory in men's final, has eyes set on 2020 Paralympics gold

As a child, Suryo Nugroho would not go to bed without first watching some videos of Taufik Hidayat.

Perhaps, he thought that if he went to sleep dreaming about the 2004 badminton Olympic champion, the budding shuttler's hopes of growing up to be like his idol would one day come true too.

An accident when Suryo was just 12 put paid to those aspirations. He was riding pillion on a motorcycle with a friend when he was thrown off and the bones in Suryo's left arm were shattered. "The doctor told me that amputation was the only way out," he told The Straits Times yesterday. "I didn't play for three years after that."

Not only did he pick up a racquet again, the 20-year-old has also risen to become the top para-shuttler in Indonesia.

He led his team to victory in the men's team final yesterday, beating Malaysia 2-0 at the OCBC Arena. His team-mate Fredy Setiawan defeated Bakri Omar (21-14, 21-16) before Suryo eased past Mohamad Faris Ahmad Azri (21-11, 21-15) for the gold.

"After my accident, I thought I could never play badminton again. I stopped studying, stopped training and I didn't want to go out," Suryo recalled.

He had been doing well in the national youth development pipeline, with a runner-up finish at the 2005 Surabaya International tournament one of his proudest achievements before the accident.

A coach's constant encouragement finally helped Suryo rid his mind of doubts. His body, however, had to make adjustments.

With his left arm amputated near the elbow, Suryo found himself struggling with a loss of balance, especially when it came to leaping for smashes. To make up for it, he worked harder in the gym so his legs would be stronger.

He no longer had a left hand to hold the shuttlecock while serving so he learnt to balance it on his stump.

His swift footwork and powerful strokes, which he displayed yesterday, give a glimpse of his potential.

Earlier in August, Suryo beat Malaysia's world No. 1 Cheah Liek Hou at the Indonesia Para-Badminton International, ending the dominant 10-time world champion's 12-year unbeaten streak.

Suryo, however, is not dwelling on "could have beens".

Said the only child, who lives in Solo, where he trains six hours a day, six times a week: "Life must go on. That is my motivation."

With the sport included at the Paralympics for the first time at the 2020 Tokyo Games, Suryo has his eyes set on winning a historic first title for his country.

He said: "Badminton is my life. Through it, I can be the best in my country and I can make my country proud. On court, everything is possible."

Meanwhile, Singapore's shuttlers missed out on a medal yesterday after losing 1-2 to Vietnam in the quarter-finals.

Jovenn Siow was beaten 21-9, 21-6 by Le Van before Tay Wei Ming levelled the score with a 21-19, 21-6 triumph over Pham Hong Tuan.

In the deciding doubles tie, Bobby Lee and Kelvin Pung were beaten 21-18, 21-8 by Le Quoc Manh and Nguyen Van Thuong.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2015, with the headline 'SHUTTLER'S BIG COMEBACK'. Print Edition | Subscribe