Asian Games: Underdog Jojo makes comeback with victory in badminton

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya | The Jakarta Post | Jakarta

Jakarta   /  Wed, August 29, 2018  /  02:19 pm

Jonatan "Jojo" Christie(JP/Seto Wardhana)

Twenty-year-old shuttler Jonatan “Jojo” Christie shouted ecstatically, raising his fist in the air, after his shot broke the defense of Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen in the final on Tuesday, claiming the first badminton gold for Indonesia this year.

Just like in the semifinals when he defeated Japanese shuttler Kenta Nishimoto, he celebrated his victory by taking off his shirt, causing his jubilant female fans to scream and cheer, many of them taking the opportunity to capture the happy moment on their phones.

The tall and good-looking Jonatan, now the world No. 15, claimed Indonesia’s first Asian Games men’s singles title in 12 years, after his senior Taufik Hidayat snatched the gold in the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar.

His victory was surprising for many because he was not one of the most likely candidates to win the gold medal.

Many believed that his compatriot and best friend Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, the world No. 12, would go further in the quadrennial multisport event, but Jonatan proved them wrong by elegantly winning the title.

Playing badminton since he was six years old, Jonatan has handled ups and downs in his career with a positive attitude.

His badminton debut was in 2008, when he won some local, national and international championships. In 2009, the promising young athlete received the Satya Lencana award from former president Susilo Bambang

In 2013, Jonatan won his first international senior title in the Indonesia International Challenge, after beating Alamsyah Yunus, who was 11 years older than him.

The following year, Jonatan won the Swiss International after defeating Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long.

Jonatan started gaining national attention after claiming the gold medal at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

However, since the beginning of this year, Jonatan’s achievements had been disappointing with him losing some tournaments in the early stages.

In the BWF World Championships in Nanjing, China, from July 30 to Aug. 5, Jonatan went home early after being knocked out by Malaysia’s Daren Liew.

In the Blibli Indonesia Open in early July, Jonatan also lost after being defeated by world number one shuttler Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.

His performance was also lacking in the Malaysia Open, the Thomas Cup men’s team event, the Asia Championships and the All England Open this year, where he failed to grab any titles.

In a post-match conference, Jonatan said he felt like he was at the lowest point of his career before competing in the Asian Games.

Negative comments from badminton fans also let him down, he added.

“I felt like I had tried hard, but I didn’t get the results that I hoped for. By winning this, I proved that I can still play [well],” Jonatan said.

His next target will be continuing to compete in competitions in the Badminton World Federation Super Series including the upcoming Japan Open, China Open and Korea Open.

Indonesian shuttler Jonatan Christie celebrates after winning a gold medal in men’s singles badminton at Istora in Senayan, Jakarta on Tuesday. Jonatan defeated Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei 21-18, 20-22, 21-15 to win the medal. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

In the next two days, Jonathan said he would start training for the Japan Open.

A loyal fan of Chinese former world champ Lin Dan, Jonatan said he thanked Indonesian spectators who kept showering him with support throughout the game.

The noisy supporters sometimes prevented him from being able to hear his coach’s advice.

However, their loud cheers helped motivate him throughout the game, he added.

Regarding his way of celebrating his victory by taking off his shirt, Jonatan said he did not know why he did it.

“I don’t know why, but since it made people happy, I just did it. It was spontaneous,” Jonatan said with a grin.