August 3, 2021
By Stanley Widianto
JAKARTA (Reuters) – Five cows, a meatball restaurant, and a new house. Those are just some of the prizes promised to Indonesian badminton gold medallists Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu when they return home from Tokyo.
Southeast Asia’s biggest country is badminton-crazy, and the sport has produced all of its golds since being added to the Olympic programme in 1992.
Women’s pair Greysia and Apriyani defeated China’s Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan 21-19 21-15 on Monday, giving Indonesia its first gold of the Tokyo Games.
At a time when the country’s badminton association is reporting a COVID-linked drop in people taking up the sport, the government quickly stepped in with a 5 billion rupiah ($349,000) cash award – and the pair have since been showered with more gifts.
The district head in Apriyani’s hometown on Sulawesi island promised her five cows and a house, while a chain of meatball restaurants pledged to give them both their own outlet.
Celebrations went viral on social media, with a meme https://twitter.com/kariakami/status/1422236149959983105?s=20 in which a Twitter user switches places with Greysia when she changes her racket receiving 37,800 likes.
In a message on Twitter, President Joko Widodo said the pair’s “tough and thrilling” victory was a gift ahead of independence day on August 17.
Imelda Wigoeno, a former player and an official at the pair’s club, said: “It does take victors like (Greysia and Apriyani) to bring more attention to women’s sports.”
Broto Happy, a badminton association spokesperson, said the pair’s win came at a time when recruitment of new players had stalled because the coronavirus had shut down competitions.
“This is the sign of love from badminton lovers in Indonesia to the new winners,” he said of the nationwide celebrations.
Greysia, 33, said on the Badminton World Federation’s website: “I was born to be a badminton player. And I had that faith when I was just 13, that I wanted to make history for Indonesia.”
($1 = 14,340.0000 rupiah)
(Reporting by Stanley Widianto; Editing by Ed Davies and John Stonestreet)