Mixed doubles joy for Indonesian pair in badminton
Ahmad Tontowi and Liliyana Natsir secured Indonesia’s first gold of Rio 2016 on 17 August, beating Malaysia’s Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying in straight sets in the badminton mixed doubles final.
Roared to the title by a small but vociferous band of Indonesia fans at the Riocentro, the world No3 pairing gave their opponents little chance, producing a commanding performance to win 21-14 21-12. Victory gave Indonesia their maiden triumph in the event and their seventh Olympic badminton title in all, their previous gold having come at Beijing 2008, when Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan claimed the men’s doubles crown.
“I feel speechless. I cannot say anything. I’m overwhelmed,” said an ecstatic Tontowi. “For this medal I would like to thank God, my family, my kids, my parents, the citizens of Indonesia, the coach and everyone who has been supporting us along the way.”
“I feel relieved, proud, happy; I don’t know anymore. It’s just an outstanding feeling,” commented playing partner Natsir. “Although I am experienced, I was very stressed and under pressure in the earlier points. I tried to relax and enjoy the game so we could go on and win it.”
In winning gold to go with the silver she took in the same event at Beijing 2008, Natsir became only her country’s second dual badminton medallist, after Susi Susanti, who won women’s singles gold and bronze at Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996 respectively.
For Malaysia, meanwhile, their 52-year wait for an Olympic badminton title goes on, with Goh and Chan’s hopes of ending it vanishing in just 44 minutes. Finding themselves 10-3 down in the opening set before they could settle, Goh and Chan had no answer to Tontowi’s aggressive play and Natsir’s deftness at the net.
After duly taking the first set, the Indonesian pair made another fast start in the second, before Goh and Chan clawed their way back to 10-9. Tontowi and Natsir stepped up the pressure again, however, allowing their Malaysian opponents only three extra points as they powered to gold.
Having nevertheless enjoyed an excellent tournament, in which they upset defending champions and eventual bronze medallists Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei of China in the semi-finals, Chan and Goh were delighted to take second place on the podium. “I feel this is tremendous for our country because not one single pair has won any medal for Malaysia in this mixed double event, so we have already made history,” said Goh.
Chan added: “Since the start of partnership our dream has been to come to the Olympic Games. Now, with this silver medal I think we didn't let anyone down because over the years we have trained hard and lived up to the expectations of our families and coaches. After all the hardship, with this silver medal now we have no regret.”