Indonesia Wins Badminton Gold for the 8th Time
Indonesia won Olympic gold in just one sport: badminton.
On Monday, the world’s fourth most populous nation claimed another victory in badminton when Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu won gold in the women’s doubles event. It was Indonesia’s first gold medal at the Tokyo Games and the eighth in the country’s Olympic history.
Polii and Apriyani overwhelmed former world champions Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan of China in straight sets, 21-19, 21-15, delivering precision shuttlecock strikes combined with floating shots that left their opponents scrambling. rush in vain. Towards the end of the match, Polii had to leave the field halfway to change racquets due to a broken string, but came back to win.
Badminton is a national sport in Indonesia, where commuters take up all the space they can find to play: a clearing in a palm oil plantation, a jetty on a remote island, or a strip of cement between skyscrapers. -sky. The medal count of Olympic sport is dominated by Asian countries, such as China, Indonesia and South Korea.
Polii, 33, is a badminton veteran, first competing at the London Games in 2012. But his debut was ominous. To get a better draw, she and her partner tried to lose an early game, Olympic organizers determined. The Indonesians, along with several other pairs, were disqualified.
Unsportsmanlike behavior has plagued badminton in recent months. The sport’s governing body this year banned three Indonesian players for life for match-fixing and betting. Five others were fined and suspended for up to 12 years.
After the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, where she and her former partner reached the quarter-finals, Polii was preparing to retire. But Apriyani, a decade younger, convinced her to hold on for another Olympics. They entered the competition in Tokyo without a seed.
Indonesia has been consumed by the coronavirus, which has made the country one of the most dangerous places in the world. The Delta variant crosses the sprawling archipelago while vaccination rates remain low.
Indonesia’s Anthony Sinisuka Ginting will play in the men’s singles bronze medal match on Monday night, but the only hopes for a gold medal in badminton rested on Apriyani and Polii. (Indonesia also won bronze in women’s weightlifting and have medal hopes in another women’s weightlifting class.)
“The wait for gold ended this afternoon,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo wrote on social media. “This victory is the gift of independence from Indonesia two weeks early.”
Indonesia is the largest Muslim-majority country in the world, although it has a large Christian minority and followers of other faiths. While sectarian tensions have simmered over the years, sometimes with fatal consequences, doubles badminton players often come from mixed backgrounds, such as Apriyani, a Muslim, and Polii, a Christian.
After the couple’s victory on Monday, a politician from an Islamist party congratulated them on Twitter.
“This gold medal is a sweet gift for Indonesia, which is still fighting the pandemic,” wrote Mardani Ali Sera, a member of the prosperous Justice Party. “Thank you to all the Indonesian athletes who fought and still fight. Indonesians support you and pray for you.
Muktita Suhartono contributed reports.
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