SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Back home, adoring teen-age girls scream and cry when he plays. His dates with pop singer Nola of the AB Three are prime news.
Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat may not be a household word to the rest of the world, but the lithe, handsome athlete could become the youngest badminton player to win gold at the Sydney Olympics.
For badminton fans, and they are a legion in Asia, the expected showdown between Taufik and Denmark’s Peter Gade Sept. 23 will be as thrilling as the 100-meter final in track.
The 19-year-old Hidayat, who has passed Gade for the No. 1 world ranking in male singles, began his quest for the gold Monday, defeating Japan’s Hidetaka Yamada 15-5, 14-17,15-8.
Hidayat’s syle is almost ballet-like, combining delicate, net-skimming lobs with sudden, mid-air smashes.
Indonesia has earned all but two of its 11 Olympic medals in badminton, which entered the games as an official sport in 1988 at Seoul.
A LIFT FOR CHINA: In a matchup heavy in political undertones, China’s 4-foot-11 lifter Yang Xia shattered world records and Taiwanese hopes of Olympic gold on Monday in the 116 1/2-pound division of women’s weightlifting.
Yang’s gold was the first of four China expects from its women weightlifters. It also boosted China’s chances of attaining its goal of lifting at least 16 golds at the Sydney Games.
Yang overpowered Taiwan’s Li Feng-ying, who left China after marrying a Taiwanese. When Li lifted a world record 215 1/2 pounds in the snatch, Yang went her better _ lifting 220 pounds, depriving Li of her minutes-old record.
Yang then lifted a world record 275 pounds, more than double her body weight of 115 1/2, in the clean and jerk, for a world record total of 495 pounds. Li finished with a total 467 1/2 pounds and the silver. Indonesian Binti Winarni Slamet took bronze.
SADNESS IN THE STORES: Retailers say tens of thousands of Olympic visitors roaming the streets of Sydney are doing too much walking or browsing and not enough spending.
Trade at cafes, restaurants and stores at the popular Circular Quay tourist area has been below expectations in the first few days of the games, said Tony Imad, a spokesman for the area traders’ association.
``Instead of an increase, there has been a decrease in sales,″ he said. ``We have seen more crowds in school holidays than what we have seen today.
``A lot of people are hanging around but they’re not buying anything. For seven years Olympic organizers have been telling us that everybody is going to make money out of the Olympics, but that’s not happening and I don’t think it will.″
While some pubs and restaurants in downtown Sydney have reported increased crowds, shop owners at the Queen Victoria complex say there’s been a drop in business.
In the suburb of Drummoyne, some businesses are complaining that Olympic parking restrictions are costing some of them up to about $10,500 a week in business. Others have closed their doors for the games.
WITH A BULLET: The opening ceremony of the games was a hit and so is the CD.
Featuring performers such as Vanessa Amorosi, John Farnham, Olivia Newton-John and Tina Arena, the official 18-track compact disc of the ceremony’s music has top the million mark in sales in just three days, listed No. 3 on the charts in the Sydney area and No. 11 throughout Australia.
Sydney Olympics organizers said they also have received thousands of orders worldwide on their Web site.
On the Net:
Sydney Olympic Organizing Committee: http://www.olympics.com