Golden heroes welcomed

Olympic gold medalists Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan received heroes' welcomes at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta on Tuesday after returning from Beijing.

The men's badminton doubles pair, who won Indonesia's sole gold medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, were part of a group of 12 returning Indonesian athletes, including 11 shuttlers and a runner.

They were welcomed home amid signs and banners by some 30 people, including their families, relatives and officials of the Indonesian Sports Council, the State Ministry for Sport and Youth Affairs and the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI).

One banner read: "I Love You Kido-Hendra."

With their gold medal victory, they kept alive Indonesia's run of winning at least one gold at every games since badminton was first featured at Barcelona 1992.

"I'm very grateful," Kido said. "This victory is for Indonesia... it is my birthday present and it is for my late father."

Hendra said they had prepared hard ahead of the Olympics.

"We were longing for this... but we still had to work hard in the preceding All England and Asian Games," he said.

Kido and Hendra, world championship winners in 2007, failed this year to win the All England and Asian Games for their first time.

Kido's sister Pia Zebadia Bernadet, also a national shuttler, said all of her family members had enthusiastically received the Olympic champions.

"We made this T-shirt with their pictures on it to welcome them," she said.

"We have also prepared a welcoming party back home in Bekasi. We'll be partying until late," she added with a grin.

Indonesia, with 24 athletes competing in seven sports, brought home a single gold, a silver and three bronze medals from Beijing; one bronze better than in Athens 2004.

Badminton also contributed a silver medal through mixed doubles pair Nova Widianto and Lilyana Natsir and a bronze through surprise package Maria Kristin Yulianti in the women's singles.

Indonesia won two bronze medals in weightlifting, with Eko Yuli Irawan finishing third in the men's under 57 kilograms event, and Triyatno in the men's under 62 kg. The team of five lifters returned home on Aug. 15.

Badminton coach Sigit Pamungkas said he was satisfied with his proteges.

"I'm very satisfied with Markis and Hendra. With this victory, they have proved their maturity by surviving the pressure. Especially Markis, he showed his best," he added.

Nova and Lilyana might rue their missed chance for gold after being beaten in the final, but Lilyana said she would put the disappointment behind her and look ahead.

"Nova and I will still be pairing in the next two years. So, we have to ready ourselves for the next Super Series," Lilyana said.

Indonesia also participated in archery, athletics, windsurfing, swimming and shooting.

Chef de mission Rosihan Arsyad said Indonesia needed to develop other sports so that it could win medals in events other than badminton.

"Of course we are very grateful to badminton as it managed to contribute gold medals in the Olympic Games. However, we should start developing other sports as the next task will be harder."

Post Your Say

Selected comments will be published in the Readers’ Forum page of our print newspaper.