Jakarta. Indonesia suffered a 1-3 defeat against China in the Asian Games badminton men's team final at the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex in Jakarta on Wednesday (22/08), when the host only managed to win a silver medal during the event, watched by thousands of spectators, including President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
The first match saw Indonesian men's single player Anthony Ginting going down in a heroic 21-14, 21-23 and 20-21 against China's Shi Yuqi.
Ginting led 19-18 in the third set when a muscle injury forced him to seek treatment. The game continued, but the 21-year-old shuttler was eventually forced to bow out at 20-21, when he was carried off on a stretcher.
In the second match, world No. 1 men's doubles pair Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo beat China's Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen in straight sets 21-17 and 21-18.
The Indonesian pair, nicknamed the Minions, entertained the crowd with their acrobatic moves, while Kevin teased the world No. 2 pair with funny gestures after each rally. However, this earned him a reprimand from the referee at the end of the match.
"When we saw Ginting's injury and his struggle, we were so moved and motivated to deliver the equalizer," Marcus said.
"Facing them is always difficult; never easy. And they had a confident start, perhaps because they just won the world championship title. But we remained focused," Kevin added.
Jonatan Christie, Indonesia's second men's singles player, was beaten 21-19, 16-21 and 18-21 in the third match by the more experienced Chen Long, leaving the host trailing by 1-2 at this point.
In the fourth match, Chinese men's doubles pair Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan secured an 18-21, 21-17 and 21-18 victory over world No. 9 pair Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto.
Two of the seven gold medals at stake in badminton at this year's Asian Games have now been captured, with China having won the men's team final and Japan the women's team final. Indonesia won bronze in the women's team event on Wednesday.
Ginting Earns Praise
Jokowi visited Ginting in the first-aid room after his match, with a photo released by the Presidential Press Office quickly going viral on social media.
"Indonesia is proud of Ginting's struggle. You've given your best," Jokowi said.
The player was also cheered on from the sidelines by fellow Indonesian shuttler Liliyana Natsir, who had tears in her eyes when her junior fell down several times during his match.
"I appreciate his efforts on the field, because he has shown that he played to the max despite being hampered by an injury. I got goosebumps when I saw his struggle," said Ayu, 20, a spectator.
"Even though he lost, it was in an honorable way, so it's okay for me. He has tried his best," said another spectator, Dinda, 21, who hails from Karawang, West Java.
The crowd gave Ginting a standing ovation at the end of his match.
Ginting's opponent also showed concern after he fell to the floor in pain when the referee refused his plea to get medical attention for a third time in the last set. Badminton rules allow a player to get medical treatment twice during a set.
This prompted Ginting to abandon the match when the third set almost reached its end with the score in Shi's favor.