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Indonesia's Polii earns badminton redemption with women's doubles gold

·2-min read

Indonesia's Greysia Polii said her years of "passion and commitment" had been rewarded, after earning badminton redemption with Olympic women's doubles gold on Monday.

The 33-year-old veteran and partner Apriyani Rahayu beat China's Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan 21-19, 21-15 to pick up their country's first Olympic medal in women's doubles.

It was also Indonesia's first gold of the Tokyo Games.

The win marked an incredible turnaround for Polii, who was ready to quit the sport five years ago when her partner Nitya Krishinda Maheswari needed knee surgery following the pair's quarter-final defeat at the Rio Games.

It also helped wipe away the bitter memory of London in 2012, when she and partner Meiliana Jauhari were thrown out for deliberately losing a group match to secure a more favourable draw in the knock-out round.

"I just keep the passion and commitment -- it takes commitment to reach your dream," said an emotional Polii, whose brother died of Covid-19 in December last year, one day after her wedding.

"At the Olympics in London, it broke my heart. So many people in Indonesia told me not to give up. They trusted in me."

Polii decided not to quit in 2016 after her coach persuaded her to team up with rising star Rahayu -- 10 years her junior.

Rahayu, who describes Polii as "my role model", said working with her veteran partner had "made me into an adult".

"She taught me to get our of my comfort zone. When I was young, I didn't like to be told what to do or be guided," said Rahayu.

"I've matured since meeting her, both in my mentality and in my daily life."

China saw its stranglehold on Olympic women's doubles slip further, five years after Japan's Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi won the event in Rio.

China has won five women's doubles golds out of eight since badminton's debut at the 1992 Games.

"Twenty years ago, when I was 13 years old, I knew that Indonesia hadn't made any history in women's doubles," said Polii.

"I knew that I was born to be a badminton player, and I had that faith when I was 13 years old that I wanted to make history for Indonesia."

Polii was non-committal about her future, but silver medallist Jia said the Indonesian was an example to everyone in the sport.

"Her enthusiasm towards badminton is something we can learn from -- even in her 30s she can still play at this level," said Jia.

"Regardless of whether they're in front or behind, she can still smile at the younger player and encourage her. All of this is something we can learn from."

South Korea's Kim So-yeong and Kong Hee-yong won the bronze, beating compatriots Lee So-hee and Shin Seung-chan 21-10, 21-17.

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