Five cows, a house and more than RM1mil for Indonesian shuttlers

Apriyani (left) and Greysia pose on the court with their women's doubles badminton gold medals during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Aug 2, 2021. - AFP

JAKARTA: Five cows, a meatball restaurant, and a new house. Those are just some of the prizes promised to Indonesian badminton gold medallists Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu when they return from Tokyo.

South-East Asia’s biggest country is badminton-crazy, and the sport has produced all of its golds since being added to the Olympic programme in 1992.

Women’s pair Greysia and Apriyani defeated China’s Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan 21-19 21-15 on Monday, giving Indonesia its first gold of the Tokyo Games.

At a time when the country’s badminton association are reporting a Covid-linked drop in people taking up the sport, the government quickly stepped in with a 5 billion rupiah (RM1.47mil) cash award – and the pair have since been showered with more gifts.

The district head in Apriyani’s hometown on Sulawesi island promised her five cows and a house, while a chain of meatball restaurants pledged to give them both their own outlet.

In a message on Twitter, President Joko Widodo said the pair’s “tough and thrilling” victory was a gift ahead of independence day on Aug 17.

Imelda Wigoeno, a former player and an official at the pair’s club, said: “It does take victors like (Greysia and Apriyani) to bring more attention to women’s sports.”

Broto Happy, a badminton association spokesperson, said the pair’s win came at a time when recruitment of new players had stalled because the coronavirus had shut down competitions.

“This is the sign of love from badminton lovers in Indonesia to the new winners,” he said of the nationwide celebrations. — Reuters

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