Badminton is a universal game as it can be played by anyone from any age group and class. Also, the equipment is quite simple. You only need a racket and a net to play it – either as single or doubles, between man or women.
Hence, this game is very popular, even in remote areas, including Konawe District, Southeast Sulawesi Province. The region is the hometown of one of the Indonesian 2020 Tokyo Olympics champions.
Apriyani Rahayu was born on April 29, 1998 in Lawulo Village, Anggaberi Sub-district, Konawe District, Southeast Sulawesi Province. She is the youngest of the four children of Ameruddin Pora and the late Siti Jauhar’s.
With her doubles partner, Greysia Polii, they successfully won a gold medal in the badminton women’s doubles at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics against the Chinese women’s doubles Chen Qingchen/Jia Yi Fan on Monday through two straight games, 21-19, 21-15.
As Indonesian number one women’s doubles player, Apriyani’s struggle was not easy. Her father, Ameruddin Pora, witnessed how his daughter grew from an amateur to a world-class player.
Through a phone call, Pora told ANTARA that his only daughter had started to hold a racket when she was three years old – such a young age.
When he realized that Apriyani began to enjoy playing badminton, he took an initiative to make her a racket using wood and fishing line.
His family’s hard conditions made Apriyani to practice playing badminton with the simple equipment during her childhood.
Even though the racket was inadequate, her daughter did not mind it. Instead, the little Apriyani enjoyed playing with her father’s racket.
Sometimes, the strings were broken. Pora had to do the stringing by himself. While stringing, he always prayed for someday his daughter would be a professional player.
As his daughter getting more and more fond of playing badminton, he made a field behind their house so she could play with her friends.
Finally, the parents’ efforts and encouragement paid off. Pora admitted that he was very proud to have his daughter made a history as the first Indonesian badminton women’s doubles who won a gold medal in Olympics.
Pora said that his daughter, who is now 23 years old, inherited the talent of her late mother. “She (Apriyani’s mother) loved playing badminton, table tennis and volleyball,” he recalled.
Apriyani’s mother, Siti Jauhar, had also brought up courageous and enthusiastic spirit to her children since they were young.
According to her father, Apriyani is a tough child – she will not give up easily and continue to strive even in difficult conditions, thanks to her late mother’s upbringing.
Then, he directed his daughter to continue practicing badminton. Apriyani began to practice at the Unaaha Joint Activity Facility, Konawe District, which is 9 km from her house.
In 2005, she participated in the sub-district badminton tournament and then a year later she joined the Konawe District junior badminton championship.
When she was in sixth grade, Apriyani participated in the Regional Games (Porda) of Southeast Sulawesi Province in Raha, Muna District in 2007. She earned the second place at the event.
Her hard work was not in vain. She always excelled in several provincial junior tournaments.
In order to continue improving her skills as a professional player, Apriyani Rahayu joined Badminton Association (PB) Pelita Bakri on September 3, 2011. Then she moved to PB Jayaraya Jakarta – until now.
Unfortunately, Apriyani’s mother could not see more of her daughter’s success. She had died when Apriyani was participating in a championship in Lima, Peru, on November 10, 2015. When the badminton player entered the field, she was suddenly asked to leave to receive the sad news. However, she decided to continue the match and won the championship.
Pora said that his wife was the biggest supporter of their daughter’s dream. She always accompanied her daughter to compete, especially when Apriyani was still at the junior level.
Hence, a week prior to the Olympics, his daughter had returned to visit her mother’s grave.
Pora admitted that he and his late wife always fully support their daughter to become a professional badminton player.
While laughing, he admitted that he would give 200 percent support to his daughter – if it was possible.
He does not mind to be far away from his only daughter in order to support her career.
Because of the distance, he can only support her in form of prayers. He believes that nothing else is more reliable than prayers. Hence, he always prays for her daughter’s health – and also for her partner, Greysia Polii.
“We do not have the power, but God has,” he said.
He also never bothers Apriyani when she is in Jakarta. Although the longing comes, he only asks God to keep his daughter healthy and successful.
“If we keep disturbing her, she cannot focus to achieve a good result,” he added.
However, he is grateful that his daughter always contacts him regularly using video call to inform him about her condition.
Apriyani always gives him some updates about herself when she was not practicing, especially before and after a match, before eating, and before going to bed.
“We will continue to support her to strive for more achievements in future. She must not be arrogant and quickly satisfied with her current achievements,” Pora stressed.
He hopes his daughter can still win other international events after the 2020 Tokyo Olympic.
Since badminton was first played at the Olympics in 1992, this is the first time the women’s doubles event has won a gold medal. In 1992, Indonesia earned two gold medals from Susy Susanti and Alan Budikusuma. Then, at the 1996 Olympics, the men’s doubles Ricky Subagja/Rexy Mainaky bagged the medal for Indonesia.
At the 2000 Olympics, it was the men’s doubles Chandra Wijaya/Tony Gunawan to win the medal and then followed by men’s single Taufik Hidayat in the 2004 Olympics.
While at the 2008 Olympics, the men’s double Hendra Setiawan/Markis Kido got the medal and then the mixed doubles Tontowi Ahmad/Lilyana Natsir also earned it at the 2016 Olympics.
Source: Antara News