Rapturous reception for Tontowi and Liliyana

Above: Indonesian President Joko Widodo (left) congratulates gold medallists Liliyana and Tontowi at his office in Jakarta.
Above: Indonesian President Joko Widodo (left) congratulates gold medallists Liliyana and Tontowi at his office in Jakarta. PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
Above: Members of the Indonesian Olympic badminton team, including gold medallists Liliyana Natsir (left) and Tontowi Ahmad (third from left) wave from a bus while being paraded down a street in Jakarta yesterday.
Above: Members of the Indonesian Olympic badminton team, including gold medallists Liliyana Natsir (left) and Tontowi Ahmad (third from left) wave from a bus while being paraded down a street in Jakarta yesterday.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

JAKARTA • Indonesian Olympic gold-medal winners Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir were given a heroes' welcome by hundreds of flag-waving fans as the badminton champions returned home on Tuesday.

They arrived at Jakarta airport to enthusiastic scenes from the waiting crowd, before travelling through the capital in an open-top, double-decker bus.

Ahmad thanked the sports minister and others who supported the players for "helping us achieve this success".

"Hopefully our success can be repeated by our juniors and other athletes; hopefully this will motivate them," he said.

At the welcoming ceremony, Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi hailed the players' victory as "the answer to eight years of yearning for an Olympic gold medal".

The shuttlers were Indonesia's only gold-medal winners in Rio, beating Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying of Malaysia in the badminton mixed doubles.

"We thank you all. We are grateful for landing safe and sound today after two days of travel (from Rio). We're moved and feel proud," said Liliyana.

It was the country's first Olympic gold since the Beijing Games in 2008.

The players will both receive a tax-free bonus of five billion rupiah (S$512,000) for winning gold, as well as 20 million rupiah a month for the rest of their lives.

Indonesia pays the third-highest cash bonuses to its athletes who win Olympic gold, with only Chinese Taipei (S$1.2 million) and Singapore (S$1 million) giving bigger payouts.

Also present at the welcoming ceremony were Indonesian weightlifters Sri Wahyuni and Eko Yuli Irawan, who both won silver in Rio. Indonesia won a total of three medals.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2016, with the headline 'Rapturous reception for Tontowi and Liliyana'. Print Edition | Subscribe