Asian Para Games: Indonesian favorite Leani getting closer to podium
The Jakarta Post
Indonesian shuttler Leani Ratri Oktila is inches away from topping the podium of the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, as she has secured two final spots in the women’s singles SL 4 (lower limb impairment) and women’s doubles SL 3 (lower limb impairment) -SU 5 (upper limb impairment).
She still has a chance to add to her medal collection in the mixed doubles SL 3-SU 5 category as she and her partner Hary Susanto have booked a spot in the semifinal.
The top seed Leani opened her Thursday match with a win against compatriot Khalimatus Sadiyah Sukohandoko in the women’s singles’ semifinal.
She was too strong for Khalimatus, who is Leani’s partner in the women’s doubles, as she dominated the game. She easily won 21-7, 21-8.
It will be a tense final as Leani will face second seed Hefang Cheng of China. Hefang defeated compatriot Huihui Ma 21-9, 21-11 to book a spot in the final.
Commenting on her chances in the final, the 27-year-old shuttler said she would try to enjoy the game first as it was key to her best performance.
“I met [Hefang] last year at the World Championship [in Ulsan, South Korea]. I lost the match but there was no preparation before the competition at that time. With the preparation this time, I am more optimistic,” she said.
With drift inside the Istora Senayan, which was unexpected, she said she was hesitant to direct the shuttlecock into the corners during the game as she was afraid it might land out.
In the women’s doubles, Leani and Khalimatus face China’s second seed Hefang Cheng and Huihui Ma. In their last encounter at the 2017 World Championship, the Indonesians lost two games 12-21, 19-21.
The good trend for Leani, who used to compete in Olympic badminton before a motorcycle accident in 2012, which resulted in her competing in Para sports, continued in the mixed doubles.
Partnering with Hary Susanto, they advanced to the semifinal. They will face Khalimatus and Hikmat Ramdani, who progressed to the semifinal after beating Thai pair Whatcharaphon Chok-Uthaikul and Darunee Henpraiwan 21-18, 21-6.
Having been able to compete in three different categories means Leani is not worried about her stamina.
She said she had been working on her skills and stamina in training, which was much more tiring than the competition.
Indonesia’s domination in the men’s singles SU 5 category was proven with its three representatives reaching the semifinal.
Suryo Nugroho will face his partner in the men’s doubles Oddie Kurnia Dwi Listiant Putra in the men’s singles semifinal, while Dheva Anrimusthi will meet a big obstacle in Liek Hou Cheah of Malaysia, who is the first seed in the competition.
Top seed Hary Susanto and Ukun Rukaendi in men’s doubles SL 3-4 failed to progress to the semifinal after losing to South Korean pair Sun Woo-jeon and Dong Jae-joo.
Winning the first game 21-17, Hary and Ukun were closer to the semifinal as they led 20-18 in the second game. Nervousness seemed to influence their game, as the Koreans won the next four points to close the second game 22-20.
The Koreans broke the Indonesian pair’s hopes of winning a medal after winning the third game 21-18.
Indonesia has no more shuttlers in the wheelchair category after Supriyadi and Wiwin Andri lost the quarterfinal.
The country’s wheelchair badminton coach Jarot Hernowo praised his protégé’s performances, saying they had showed their best despite lack of experience.
“We started practicing wheelchair badminton in 2015. Some of our athletes’ movements haven’t been effective enough yet compared to their opponents,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian men’s doubles squad attended badminton matches at the Para Games at the Gelora Bung Karno sports complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta, on Thursday to support their compatriots.
Olympian Hendra Setiawan led the squad, which included Mohammad Ahsan, Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, Fajar Alfian, Muhammad Rian Ardianto and head coach Herry Iman Pierngadi.
“The team planned to visit Istora to personally support the shuttlers. We are very proud of them. They are high-spirited and willing to break boundaries,” Hendra said.
Kevin said, “We’re very touched by their spirit. I hope our presence can motivate them [to win] even more.”
The national squad is currently preparing to compete at the Denmark Open and French Open and will fly to Europe on Saturday night.
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