Indonesia's female shuttlers win gold at Asian Games, after 36 years

Indonesia's female shuttlers win gold at Asian Games, after 36 years
At last: Greysia Polii (left) and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari (right) hug their coach after winning in their showdown match for the badminton women’s doubles gold medal — Indonesia’s first at the 17th Asian Games — in Incheon, South Korea, on Saturday.

INCHEON, South Korea - Greysia Polii and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari ended Indonesia's gold medal drought on the eighth day of the Asian Games, becoming the third national women's doubles badminton pair to win at the quadrennial event.

The last time Indonesia won the women's doubles gold was in 1978, when Verawati Fajrin and Imelda Wigoena triumphed at the Bangkok Games. The first pair to win was Minarni and Retno Kustijah at the 1962 Jakarta Games.

Greysia and Nitya gave a commanding performance, defeating Misaki Matsumoto and Ayaki Takahashi of Japan 21-15 and 21-9 in 46 minutes at the Gyeyang Gymnasium.

The Red-and-White delegation has further shots at badminton gold, with two mixed doubles pairs and the men's doubles advancing to the next stage, all at the expense of Korean opponents.

Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto overcame second-game jitters to brush aside Ko Sung-hyun and Kim Ha-na 21-9, 9-21 and 21-15, while Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir also needed three games to dispatch Shin Baek-cheol and Chang Ye-na 19-21, 21-16 and 21-9.

Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan came back from a game down in their match beating Kim Gijung and Kim Sarang 19-21, 21-16, and 21-18.

The most important showdown of the day for the Indonesian camp met expectations, as Greysia and Nitya played spiritedly to hold off the Japanese inside a gymnasium that that had already been deserted by home-team spectators.

After winning, the two players celebrated and rushed to embrace their coach, so overwhelmed by ecstasy they could not hold back their tears.

"I can say nothing about our feelings at the moment. We are so happy. This is for our families, our coach and the Indonesian people," Greysia said.

Hendra and Ahsan will face Lee Yong-dae and Yoo Yeon-seaong in the final on Sunday, while the two Indonesian mixed-double pairs will tackle Chinese opponents for a place in Monday's final.

Indonesia is now among the 22 of the 45 participating countries that have won medals at the 17th Asian Games. With a collection of three silver and six bronze medals, in addition to the gold, Indonesia was ranked 17th as of Saturday at 9:30 p.m. local time.

The badminton gold offered an oasis to the nation after a weeklong wait in the desert.

Prior to Greysia's and Nitya's victory, desperation among the Indonesian squad grew during Saturday's competition.

At the Bucheon Gymnasium, the Indonesian women's sepaktakraw (kick volleyball) team failed to advance, stopped by Myanmar 1-2.

Koko Prasetyo Darkuncoro and Ade Candra Rachmawan, previously tipped to steal gold, were halted in the semifinals by Chen Cheng and Li Jian of China 21-15, 20-22, 13-15.

In track-and-field, Rini Budiarti finished in fifth in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase. Ruth Jebet of Bahrain established a new record while winning gold with a time of 9 minutes and 31.36 seconds.

Ryan Ariehaan languished in 14th place in the men's individual time trials as the cycling races began.

The athletic competition offers a total of 47 gold medals, five of which were distributed during its first competition at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium with China, Tajikistan, Qatar and United Arab Emirates comprising the other teams to celebrate gold medal wins.

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