Tokyo. Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu wrote history on Saturday by becoming the first Indonesian badminton players to reach women’s doubles final at an Olympics.
Badminton has become Indonesia’s only gold medal source since the sport became a medal event at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
But before Tokyo 2020, the furthest distance ever reached by any Indonesian women’s doubles pair was quarterfinals.
They beat South Korea’s Lee So Hee/Shin Seung Chan in straight set 21-19 21-17 to secure a place in the Tokyo Olympics final.
For Greysia, it’s her third attempt to win an Olympic medal after years of difficulties, injuries and plan of retirement.
When partnering with Meiliana Jauhari, she was disqualified at the 2012 London Olympics for unethical play, with an accusation of “not showing their best efforts to win a match”. A Chinese and two Korean pairs were also disqualified for the scandal.
She once said that the London tragedy was “the lowest point” of her life.
At Rio 2016, she and her partner Nitya Krishinda Maheswari advanced to the quarterfinals before losing to a stronger Chinese pair.
A persistent shoulder injury almost forced Greysia to retire as Nitya already gave up the sport also because of injuries a year after Rio.
Now 33, Greysia was asked by the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) to stay at the national team and help nurture younger players, partnering with Apriyani.
“I guess the London Olympics taught me to never give up on your dreams. And I know I’m not just saying it, I want to mean it every day of my life. I just really go day by day, it’s just bonus from God that I could be here and in the final of Olympics in 2021,” Greysia said as quoted by the Badminton World Federation.
“In 2017 I was in the national team and about to quit when my partner [Maheswari] got injured and had surgery, but my coach said wait a little bit and help young players to rise up, and she [Apriyani] came. And then we won Korea Open and Thailand Open and that’s how fast we came. I was like, oh my god, I need to run for four more years!”
The pair’s success keeps Indonesia’s bid for an Olympic gold alive after two more favorite Indonesian men’s doubles pairs failed to reach the final.
Also on Saturday, Anthony Ginting advanced to men’s singles semifinal by beating Danish player Anders Antonsen 21-18 16-21 and 21-18.