JAKARTA: Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie stunned Taiwan’s Chou Tien-chen for Asian Games badminton gold as a home pair affectionately dubbed the “Minions” won the men’s doubles at a rocking Jakarta arena on Tuesday.
Christie said he’d never dreamed of being crowned Asian Games champion on home soil after his thrilling 21-18, 20-22, 21-15 against the world number six — his first title of the year.
Later, Taiwan’s world number one beat PV Sindhu 21-13, 21-16 in 34 minutes — the fifth final defeat in a row for the much-endorsed Indian, who is listed as the world’s seventh richest female athlete.
The delighted Christie ripped off his shirt as fans roared after his win over Chou, which made him Indonesia’s first men’s singles gold medallist since former Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat in 2006.
The world number 15 overcame nerves to edge the first game but after faltering in the second, he regained his composure in the decisive final game.
It capped a memorable run for Indonesia’s men after Anthony Sinisuka Ginting knocked out world champion Kento Momota and Olympic gold-medallist Chen Long en route to bronze.
“I did not expect that I can win a gold at the Asian Games. Actually there are a lot of good players here and I never expected that I could come out as a winner,” said Christie.
“But now I have to look ahead. It doesn’t stop here. A day’s rest and I will start preparing for the next tournament.”
The shuttler began his campaign with a shock win over China’s world number two Shi Yuqi in the opening round — and he felt the omens were good for the final.
“From the first time I shook hands with Chou at the toss, his hands were cold and I felt he was nervous. But he played a good game,” said Christie.
Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon, nicknamed the “Minions” owing to their stature, won an all-Indonesian final against Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto 13-21, 21-18, 24-22.
In a celebratory atmosphere at the badminton stadium, Sukamuljo and Gideon collapsed to the floor as their opponents’ final shot went wide to settle a gripping final game.
The women’s final was far more one-sided as Tai, who beat India’s Saina Nehwal in the semi-finals, improved her record against Sindhu to 10-3.
“She did not play as good as before,” Tai told reporters. “It is very good, what I have done. But I’ll keep going and train better.”–AFP