The Jakarta Post
Two hours before Indonesian shuttler Fitriani took to the court in the 2019 Thailand Masters final on Sunday, badminton legend Susy Susanti posted a picture of the two of them with a caption that read: “Come on, Fitri. Keep up the spirit and fight for Indonesia.”
A few hours later, Fitriani, 20, answered the call with a surprise but thoroughly deserved 21-12, 21-14 win over Busanan Ongbamrungphan of Thailand.
After the match, Susy posted another picture of her, Fitriani, shuttler Gregoria Mariska Tunjung and coach Minarti Timur to celebrate the moment.
Fitriani’s win gives new hope to Indonesian badminton, especially in the women’s singles category. This after Susy encouraged the female shuttlers to never give up.
For decades, shuttlers in women’s singles had trouble rising to the occasion at international events compared to other categories such as the men’s doubles, mixed doubles, women’s doubles and men’s singles.
Susy was the last woman standing in the category for Indonesia at big events such as the World Championships ( 1993 ) and top-tier tournaments that include the All England (1993 and 1994) and Indonesia Open (1994 to 1997). Her compatriots Mia Audina, Lidya Djaelawijaya and Ellen Angelina also won the Indonesian Open in 1998, 1999 and 2001, respectively.
The last Indonesian to win a medal at the World Championships was Lindaweni Fanetri who bagged bronze in 2015.
In 2017, Gregoria made a promising start by winning the BWF World Junior Championships title and helping Team Indonesia snatch bronze medals at the 2018 Asian Games and Asia Team Championships. She also reached the semifinals of several top-tier tournaments last year.
Meanwhile, Fitriani only reached the quarterfinals of several second-tier tournaments last year.
To herald in the New Year, she more than made up for last year’s disappointments by winning the Thailand Masters, five years after Adrianti Firdasari won the Indonesian Grand Prix Gold, which are both second-tier tournaments.
Fitriani was often criticized for underperforming. One of her main critics was Susy who heads the sport development and achievement division at the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI).
She slammed Fitriani for being lost in her own thoughts and being indecisive about her playing style.
Minarti, who was watching from the sidelines, repeatedly reminded Fitriani to stay calm, which proved to be a useful strategy.
“I convinced Fitri to stay positive and enjoy every game. The key to her win was that she was braver and kept on fighting,” she said.
Echoing her coach, Fitri revealed that her personal goal for the New Year was to stay relaxed during matches, while maintaining her focus.
“I should enjoy my time on court. I should also stay focused on getting better results than previous years,” she said.