Jakarta: At a local badminton club in Manado where it all began for Liliyana Natsir, when the Indonesian mixed doubles legend started playing badminton at the age of nine.
She then moved to Jakarta to join a youth club three years later and was successfully joined the Indonesian national team in 2002.
On Sunday, Natsir and Tontowi Ahmad produced a superb fightback in her final match as the crowd was roaring when Natsir/Ahmad took the second set. However, the pair eventually lost in three sets to World No. 1 Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong of China 19-21, 21-19, 16-21 in 56 minutes.
Despite losing her farewell match, it has had zero impact on Natsir’s popularity as the Indonesian fans’ showed their massive admiration for Natsir during a tribute to the Olympic champion earlier Sunday.
“Today, January 27 2019, is a tough day for me as I announce my retirement from badminton. This is the sport that gave me a chance to make a difference. I am not going away, I am just giving my juniors the chance to become new winners,” said Liliyana Natsir in her emotional farewell speech.
“Losing is not embarrassing. The worst defeat of all is to surrender without a fight,” added Natsir.
In her illustrative career, Natsir had won 1 Olympic gold medal, 4 World Championships titles, 1 world cup title, 2 Asian Championships titles and 5 SEA Games titles (3 mixed doubles, 2 women’s doubles).
No. 2 seeds Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi of Japan picked up the only title for the Japanese camp when they defeated Kim So Yeong/Kong Hee Yong 21-19, 21-15 in the women’s doubles final.
The women’s singles final ended abruptly when the Rio Olympic champion Carolina Marin sustained an injury after she landed awkwardly following a powerful smash in the 10th minute of the first game when she led 9-3.
That injury handed her opponent, Saina Nehwal a total prize money of US $26,250 dollars as the women’s singles champion.