GREYSIA POLII : “The best is yet to come!”

Indonesia’s Greysia Polii is one of the international badminton circuit’s most exciting players.  Ranked 14th in the world in women’s doubles and – despite a recent change of partners – […]

Indonesia’s Greysia Polii is one of the international badminton circuit’s most exciting players.  Ranked 14th in the world in women’s doubles and – despite a recent change of partners – 30th in mixed, she is one of the few female jump-smashers in the game.  Her success peaked between 2006 and 2007, when she won the Philippine Open and went on to reach the finals of three Super Series tournaments in 7 months.  Badzine correspondent Ira Ratnati gives us a very personal look at this affable, driven competitor.

By Ira Ratnati, Badzine Correspondent in Jakarta. (Photos: Badmintonphoto.com)

Full of energy, charming, and talented: these are the best three phrases to describe this young gun from Indonesia. Born in Jakarta on August 11, 1987, the baby of the family expected to be spoiled but it did not happen with this girl named Greysia Polii. She lived in Jakarta until her dad passed away when she was only 2, and her hometown became Manado, where she spent her childhood and eventually began to play badminton at school. Greys or Gel, as people sometimes call her, soon fell in love with the game.

At that time, I saw my sister play badminton and she asked me to join, then Deyana Lomban (a former Indonesian team shuttler) ask me to do so,” she explained.  “I started to play but I didn’t take it too seriously, but as the time passed I started to enjoy the sense of being a champion after some little championship in my hometown of Manado, which was my first tournament. I was only six that time.”

As she lived in Manado, North Sulawesi – a region closer to Malaysia and the Philippines than to the national capital region – her mom fought to bring her back to Jakarta for better training and a better chance to develop as a player.  As all Indonesians know, most of the badminton clubs and tournaments are located on the island of Java.

I remember, I could not afford the shoes and racket to play, and then my mom started to sell clothes to earn the money,” Greysia recalls

Without any proper preparation and enough money, Greysia and her mom moved to Jakarta in 1995 and her mom put Greysia into on of the most famous badminton clubs, known as Jaya Raya Jakarta, which also included, at the time, Imelda Wiguna, Verawati Fajrin, Candra Wijaya, Tony Gunawan, and Alan Budikusuma as well as women’s singles legend Susi Susanti.

The concept of no pain, no gain applies in a curious way to Polii’s life. At the beginning, Greysia started from nothing.  She remembers those hard times and how she was bought a ticket for two (herself and her mom) to go to the national circuits in Surabaya.

We bought only one train ticket for the business class to go to Surabaya for the tournament, because at that time I had to pay my own accommodation and the accommodation was too expensive for me because I was having the my hardest time at that moment.  At other times, I had to stay at local citizens’ houses while the others stayed at a nice hotel during the tournaments.

But she never felt bored, tired or frustrated even in the hardest of times.  She just enjoyed every process, never complaining, but just keeping on with the training because playing badminton and becoming an elite athlete had always been her dream, since she first picked up a racket and shuttlecock.

She was always a singles player from the start but then at Jaya Raya, her coach Retno Kustiyah (another former great player), noticed her talent in doubles, and the hard and difficult decision was made when Greysia was 14,  to switch to doubles and the decision proved to be a wise one as she won her first tournament after switching from singles.

Finally after years of sacrifice, struggle and hard effort, Greysia made it to the national team in 2003 and became the new hope for Indonesia.  Talking about the people who inspired her to achieve her ambition, without any hesitation she explained “My mom’s hard work inspired me to give my best, I want to earn more. Maybe my family is satisfied with what I have earned, but for me there is still more and more, and I believe the best is yet to come. I want to be champion on and off court!

Another passion of the Super Greys is music.  She admitted that she wouldn’t be able to live without music.  She plays guitar as her instrument to support her musical life.

I really like music. Everywhere I go, I always bring my music player, I always wanted to be in a band.  Sometimes we play music here [ in Cipayung, Indonesia’s badminton training center], but then I realise the more important things and I’m afraid that I will use too much precious time because when we do our hobby, the time just goes by faster than you could ever imagine.

Greys always remembers her humble beginnings and is always open to sharing a story or just being a normal everyday person.

Yes, I consider myself to be an easy-going person.  If you want to hang out or just talk, just call me,” she laughs.

About Ira Ratnati