TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – With their win in the badminton SL3-SU5 women’s doubles finals, Leani Ratri Oktila and Khalimatus Sadiyah have ended Indonesia’s four-decade wait for a gold medal at the Paralympics.
The first-seeded pair defeated second-seeded Cheng Hefang and Ma Huihui of China in two straight games 21-18, 21-12 at the Yoyogi National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan on Saturday, securing the contingent’s first gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
The medal was also the first for Indonesia since the 1980 Arnhem Paralympics. At that time, the contingent had brought home two golds won by Yan Soebiyanto in lawn bowls and R. S. Arlen in weightlifting.
The medal snatched by Oktila and Sadiyah at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics did not only repeat Indonesia’s achievement of 41 years ago, but also marked the beginning of Indonesia’s success in the para-badminton sport in an international multi-sports event, , which it has competed in for the first time.
Oktila and Sadiyah successfully faced every challenge before finally clinching Indonesia’s first gold in the event.
Oktila even faced greater challenges as she is competing in three events — SL3-SU5 women’s doubles with Sadiyah, SL3-SU5 mixed doubles with Hary Susanto, and SL4 women’s singles.
Participating in three events leads to more crowded match schedules with minimal rest time. Oktila has made 10 appearances since the para-badminton sports started on September 1, 2021, playing three to four matches in a day.
For instance, on the second day of the para-badminton qualification round on September 2, she had to compete in three consecutive matches in the group stage.
The schedule started with the women’s doubles against Thai Nipada Saensupa and Chanida Srinavakul. In the next match, she faced her compatriot, Sadiyah, in the women’s singles, while the last one was in the mixed doubles with Susanto against the team from Germany.
Although the rest time between the matches was relatively short, the 30-year-old athlete still showed her dominance by winning all the matches in two games straight.
Meanwhile, on September 3, she faced two matches in a day. Along with Sadiyah, she easily defeated the host’s representative Noriko Ito-Ayako Suzuki with a score of 21-4, 21-8.
Furthermore, she defeated France’s Faustine Noel with a score of 21-12, 21-6 in the SL4 women’s singles to secure a place in the semifinals.
The schedule was tighter on Saturday. Before pocketing the gold medal in the women’s doubles, the world’s number one SL4 women’s single player had to face three semifinal matches. Hence, she had to stay at Yoyogi National Stadium until 8 p.m. Japan Standard Time.
Although her energy should have drained more than her colleagues’, with strong determination, the ‘queen’ of para-badminton was able to dominate the tournament and grab the gold medal.
On Sunday (September 5, 2021), Oktila will have more opportunities to win gold as she competes in the SL4 women’s singles and SL3-SU5 mixed doubles with Susanto.
In the women’s singles, she will face China’s Cheng Hefang, while in the mixed doubles competition, Oktila and Susanto will meet France’s Lucas Mazur and Faustine Noel.