Doubles badminton has a way of portraying how beautifully two contrasting forces can come together. We see this in pairings like Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng, Kim So-Yeong and Kong Hee-Yong, and Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara, to name a few. But no other team exemplified the ideal blend of youthful energy and aged experience better than Indonesia’s Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu.
Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu were one of the most dynamic and dominant women’s doubles teams from Indonesia. Together, the unlikely duo captured numerous titles in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Grand Prix, Superseries, and World Tour Circuits. Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu also won the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after defeating Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan in the finals. The Indonesian duo made history with the Olympic win, becoming the first Indonesian women’s doubles pair to win Olympic Gold. On June 12, 2022, Polii announced her retirement from the sport. Apriyani Rahayu then partnered with Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti.
Despite playing together for just six years, Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu chalked up momentous wins and captivated badminton fans worldwide. Join me as we take a look at the illustrious achievements of Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu!
Greysia Polii’s Early Life
Greysia Polii was born on August 11, 1987, in Jakarta, Indonesia. She’s the third of five siblings who all had to move to Monado following the death of their father. When Greysia Polii turned five, her older sister introduced her to badminton. Within just a year, Polii displayed a unique flair for the racket and shuttlecock.
When Greysia Polii turned 14, she joined a local badminton club and began sweeping local and national competitions with her skills and athleticism.
Apriyani Rahayu’s Early Life
Apriyani Rahayu was born 10 years after Greysia Polii. She was born on April 29, 1998. A native of Konawe, the young Rahayu spent most of her childhood in rural surroundings. She was a particularly aggressive child, picking fights with boys her age. Noticing her aggressiveness, her father introduced badminton as a productive way for Rahayu to channel her energy.
Without the luxuries of badminton courts and equipment, Rahayu played and trained using an improvised wooden racket. But what she lacked in resources, she made up for with skill and heart.
By age nine, Apriyani Rahayu had already chalked up numerous local and national titles as a girl’s singles player. It wasn’t long before she caught the attention of Icuk Sugiarto who recruited her into his badminton club.
Before 2017, Greysia Polii had experienced success with several doubles partners, including Nitya Krishinda Maheswari and Jo Novita. However, a series of semifinal and final losses leading up to 2017 caused Polii to question her future in badminton. Her chance at a renewed career began with the most unfortunate of events — Maheswari’s injury following the 2016 China Open.
In 2017, Greysia Polii — already 30 years old at the time — partnered with the up-and-coming Apriyani Rahayu. At the time of their partnership, Rahayu was at the start of her career and had already won two International Series titles with Jauza Fadhila Sugiarto.
The newly formed pair debuted at the 2017 Thailand Open. Right away, their partnership bore fruit — they won the tournament. Several months later, Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu won the 2017 French Open, defeating Lee So-Hee and Shin Seung Chan in the finals.
Polii and Rahayu capped off their debut year with an impressive showing at the 2017 Hong Kong Open. Despite losing their finals match to Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan, they ended the year on the podium.
2018 to 2020: World Tour Success
In 2018, the newly formed duo of Polii and Rahayu qualified for the BWF World Tour. Debuting at the 2018 Indonesia Masters, the pair bagged silver after making it as far as the finals.
Despite a positive start to the year, Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu desired better results. Hungry for their first World Tour title, they competed a week later at the 2018 India Open. There, they dominated the women’s doubles event to win their first World Tour crown. Their winning ways didn’t stop there as they bagged another World Tour title at the 2018 Thailand Open.
In 2019, the pair successfully defended their India Open women’s doubles title. But their biggest achievement of the year came in December when they won the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. The SEA Games victory gave the pair their first SEA Games title.
Fresh off their SEA Games title victory, Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu kicked off 2020 on a high after winning the 2020 Indonesia Masters. The victory was memorable for the pair as it was the first title they won on home soil.
The pair was just warming up. Less than two weeks after the Indonesia Masters, Polii and Rahayu won another World Tour crown at the 2020 Barcelona Spain Masters. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic was announced just weeks later, ceasing all sporting competitions worldwide.
The pair returned to action at the re-scheduled 2020 Thailand Open. There, they took the women’s doubles event by storm, defeating hometown favorites Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai in the finals.
Making History at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
As good as winning titles at the World Tour was, few achievements will compare to Polii and Rahayu’s next achievement.
On July 24, 2021, Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu competed at the re-scheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In the women’s doubles event, the pair breezed to the finals where China’s Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan were waiting.
The final match was intense. Polii and Rahayu established dominance early to narrowly win the first game 21-19. The outcome of the second game was more decisive as the Indonesian team pulled out all the stops to win 21-17.
Winning Olympic Gold, not only did Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu enrich their careers, but they also made history by being the first Indonesian women’s doubles pair to win Olympic Gold.
Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu: When Experience Meets Youthful Vigor
Nearing the twilight of her career, Greysia Polii experienced reinvigorated success because of her partnership with Apriyani Rahayu. Apriyani Rahayu, in turn, bolstered her career early on, benefiting from the experience and wisdom her more seasoned partner showed.
The pairing of Polii and Rahayu may seem like an unlikely one due to their age gap, but for me and many other fans, it’s a partnership that proves how any player can benefit from both youthful and experienced partners.
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