Badminton icon Liliyana Natsir was inducted into the BWF Hall of Fame at the venue beloved of all Indonesian fans – Stadium Istora.
This was where she won four Indonesia Open titles, and where she retired. But there had been heartbreak too – this was where, playing the World Championships 2015 semifinal and flying high against Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei, the Indonesians blew two match points in the second game and then went into a tailspin.
It was eventually the Olympic gold at Rio 2016 that helped her come to terms with the loss.
And so it was Istora again, to receive the ultimate accolade a badminton player can aspire for. Natsir walked into a warm reception by fans chanting her name. A short video of her accomplishments was played and she received a pin and certificate from BWF Deputy Chair – Marketing Committee, Bambang Roedyanto.
“This is very meaningful to me. It means that I’m recognised not just in Indonesia but also in the eyes of the world. I hope this will motivate the juniors to bring more honour for Indonesia. I feel very happy and excited. This is a memorable event in my career,” said Natsir.
“To get this at Istora – it’s very special for me. When I retired, and now, Istora made me feel so good… I’ve been missing Istora and meeting friends. Usually I come here to play, but today is different.
“At the World Championships I was so hurt, I couldn’t forget it for three months. I was very sad, I wanted to be world champion here. We only had to win one points but we lost the match. That just meant we had to prepare better. When I got the Olympic gold I could get over that disappointment.
“I was very surprised when I got the message. I usually don’t reply but I replied immediately to this one. I thank BWF for the induction. I didn’t think I would get this. I’m only the second woman from Indonesia to get this, so am I’m happy and thankful.”
♦ Liliyana Natsir is the eighth Indonesian, and only the second Indonesian woman, to be inducted into the BWF Hall of Fame after Rudy Hartono, Dick Sudirman, Christian Hadinata, Liem Swie King, Susi Susanti, Tjun Tjun/Johan Wahjudi and Rexy Mainaky/Ricky Subagja.
♦ Among the many achievements in her career, the most striking are an Olympic gold and silver, and four World Championships titles.