National associations like PBSI (Badminton Association of Indonesia) set targets for the athletes to achieve. Players get booted out from the national training programmes if they fail to achieve these set targets.

In a similar fashion, sponsors like Yonex also set goals for its players. World no. 1 doubles player Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo gave some insights on his sponsorship contract with Yonex through an Instagram live stream (badminton.ina@Instagram).

“In a year, we are given a target to win at least 5 titles, above Super 500 (tournaments). For example, last year the goal was to become World Champions, while this year we were supposed to get an Olympic medal. Since we couldn’t get the World Championships title last year, they (Yonex) revised our target to an Olympic gold medal,” said Kevin when answering questions from PBSI reporter Nafielah Mahmudah.

Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon crashed out of the World Championships last year after losing to the Korean pair of Choi Sol Gyu and Seo Seung Jae. These results were certainly disappointing considering their status as the world number ones.

Yonex, as a sponsor, provides clothing, rackets, shoes, etc. Kevin said, “We are given 5 sets of jerseys for each colour. For rackets, it depends on my request, because the rackets are custom built for me. For shoes, they provide it whenever I request it.”

Another target that Kevin must achieve with Marcus is to qualify for the World Tour Finals at the end of the year. The unusual high targets set by the association and the sponsor is evidently proportional to the high public expectations on this pair.

On how he deals with the burden of expectation, Kevin said, “I feel burdened physically and emotionally (when I fail). Seriously. I don’t want to think too far ahead, when I play I play. I don’t think much about expectations, except just before playing. 

“During my career, I have met more failure than success. It is the usual thing. I get sad about every match I lose. We have very high expectations when it comes to important matches.”

“Just train again, stay motivated. If I lose then I bounce back, that’s it.”