Exclusive: The land of Susi Susanti and Taufik Hidayat brings badminton magic to Dubai

Hundreds of Indonesian fans turned up at the Rashid bin Hamdan Hall in Al Nasr Club to cheer for Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja and Dejan Ferdinansyah, beating the drums and roaring their approval after every winning point

by

Rituraj Borkakoty

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Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja takes a selfie with Indonesian fans. — Supplied photo
Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja takes a selfie with Indonesian fans. — Supplied photo

Published: Fri 28 Apr 2023, 9:25 PM

When Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja stepped on the court with her partner Dejan Ferdinansyah for the mixed doubles quarterfinal against India’s Rohan Kapoor and N. Sikki Reddy, she was greeted with a beautiful surprise.

Hundreds of Indonesian fans turned up at the Rashid bin Hamdan Hall in Al Nasr Club to cheer for them, beating the drums and roaring their approval after every winning point.

“We were not expecting to see so many Indonesian fans here because this is our first time in Dubai. This was beyond our imagination. It was as if we were playing in Jakarta,” Gloria told the Khaleej Times after her 21-18, 19-21, 21-15 win on Friday.

Her partner, Dejan, hopes to see his countrymen again on Saturday for the semifinal.

“It was a huge motivation for us to play well and win this match. Hope they will come again tomorrow and support us,” he said.

Gloria then revealed what makes Indonesians so passionate about badminton.

“Badminton in Indonesia is the biggest sport because we have had big stars and legends like Susi Susanti (former women’s singles world and Olympic champion) and Taufik Hidayat (former men’s singles world and Olympic champion),” she said.

Gloria says Indonesian shuttlers are always under pressure to win in big events.

“Our players have always won medals at the Olympics and the world championships. So there is always a big expectation from people back home. They always expect medals from us,” said Gloria who has assured herself of her first medal at Asian championships by reaching the semifinals.

“That’s why badminton is so big in Indonesia. If you come to Indonesia, you will see badminton everywhere.”

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