JAKARTA: Indonesian Olympic gold medal winners Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir were given a hero’s welcome by hundreds of flag-waving fans as the badminton champions returned home.
They arrived at Jakarta airport to enthusiastic scenes from the waiting crowd, before travelling through the capital in an open-top, double-decker bus on Tuesday.
Ahmad thanked the sports minister and others who supported the players for “helping us achieve this success”.
“Hopefully our success can be repeated by our juniors and other athletes, hopefully this will motivate them,” he said.
At the welcoming ceremony, Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi hailed the players’ victory as “the answer to eight years of yearning for an Olympic gold medal”.
Tontowi and Liliyana were Indonesia’s only gold medal winners in Rio, beating Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying of Malaysia in the badminton mixed doubles.
It was the country’s first Olympic gold since the Beijing games in 2008.
The players will both receive a tax-free bonus of five billion rupiah (RM1.5mil) for winning gold, as well as 20 million rupiah (RM6,000) a month for the rest of their lives.
Indonesia pays the second-highest cash bonuses to its athletes who win Olympic gold, with only Singapore giving bigger payouts.
Also present at the welcoming ceremony were Indonesian weightlifters Sri Wahyuni and Eko Yuli Irawan, who both won silver in Rio. Indonesia won a total of three medals. — AFP