Indonesia topples China for first women’s doubles badminton gold
TOKYO – World number six women’s doubles pair Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia won the Olympic gold medal on Monday, smashing their way to victory as raucous onlookers chanted and waved large national flags.
They beat China’s Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan 21-19 21-15 to cries of encouragement from a handful of socially distanced Indonesian team members and support staff that echoed through Tokyo’s mostly empty Musashino Forest Sport Plaza.
The win was well-deserved. At one stage, Polii hit the shuttlecock so hard that a string on her racket broke and she had to dash off to swap it for another one while the point was still in play.
Indonesia has never won a gold medal in women’s doubles, an event China has previously excelled in. “People said, ‘You’re not going to make it because Indonesia doesn’t have a history in women’s doubles,” said a sobbing Polii, 33, whose Olympic dream began two decades ago.
❤️Congratulations❤️ Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu🇮🇩
— #Tokyo2020 (@Tokyo2020) August 2, 2021
“Here I am now.”
Polii and Rahayu clutched each other after the win, crying while singing the national anthem underneath their masks as the Indonesian flag was hoisted.
In a moment of touching camaraderie, they invited the silver and bronze medallists to squeeze onto the podium for a picture.
Earlier, two South Korean teams met in a battle for the women’s doubles bronze, with world number five pair Kim Soyeong and Kong Heeyong taking the honors.
Lee Sohee and Shin Seungchan were unable to recover from a tough first game despite doing much better in the second, and lost 21-10 21-17.
“Since we know each other very well, we tried to pretend this was practice not the real match so that we didn’t feel nervous,” Kong said.
The men’s singles finals will be held later on Monday between world number two Viktor Axelsen of Denmark and China’s Chen Long, the champion from the 2016 Rio Games.