Wed, 24 May 2000

Thousands swarm the streets to join Thomas Cup parade

By Ivy Susanti

JAKARTA (JP): Old and young people thronged the streets on Tuesday to join the euphoric celebration of the Thomas Cup victory.

Mothers took their children to the streets while young girls with casual T-shirts and school uniforms could not restrain hysterical outbursts of elation at seeing their male idols standing on the open-deck of six jeeps waving at them.

Some of them rode motorcycles and minivans to chase the jeeps and ask for autographs or take pictures.

Almost all members of the Indonesian men's team, including Taufik Hidayat, Hendrawan, Ricky A. Subagja, Rexy Mainaky, Marleve Mainaky, Chandra Wijaya, Tony Gunawan, Heryanto Arbi, Sigit Budiarto and Antonius Budi Ariantho took part in the parade, which started at the National Sports Council (KONI) headquarter in Senayan, Central Jakarta and ended at Badminton training center in Cipayung, East Jakarta.

But Tuesday's euphoria apparently did not belong to the women shuttlers. Lydia Djaelawidjaja, Ellen Angelina, Yuli Marfuah, Ninik Masrikah, Etty Tantri and Cynthia Tuwankotta preferred to observe the rowdy celebration from inside their cars.

The Indonesian men thrashed China 3-0 to win the Thomas Cup for the fourth consecutive time and their 12th victory since 1958. The Indonesian women's team lost 0-3 to China in the Uber Cup semifinals, then China retained its title with a 3-0 win over Denmark.

At some streets, the crowd was upset that they could not meet the Uber Cup team members. "Where are the Uber Cup members?" they shouted.

The older generation had a different outlook. Many of them were seen greeting Christian Hadinata, former renown Indonesian shuttler and current training director of the Badminton Association of Indonesia.

A fan who identified himself as Winarto, 30, rode his motorcycle from one vehicle to the next along M.H. Thamrin in Central Jakarta and Gajah Mada street in West Jakarta asking for his T-shirt to be signed by the shuttlers.

"I have collected the autographs of Tony Gunawan, Hendrawan, Ricky," he said happily from his motorcycle. He also said that Lydia, Yuli and Ellen had signed his T-shirt.

"I have followed the parade since it kicked off at KONI. My favorite shuttlers are Ricky and Rexy," he said, referring to the famous Indonesian doubles pair who earned the only gold for the country in 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

He proudly showed his new black cap, just given to him by Ricky.

At another crossroad, Yeni and her cousin Yeli raced their Kijang minivan to ask the male shuttlers for autographs.

"I got Sigit's and Chandra's autograph," Yeni yelled from her minivan. She got out of the car amid the heavy traffic jam along Bogor Raya street to approach the shuttlers for their autographs.

Young girls with school uniforms shouted to their favorite shuttlers from the street and hopped with excitement after they managed to shake hands with the shuttlers.

The trip was not so raucous in the beginning because only a few pedestrians greeted the shuttlers from the street. But the trip turned festive as the parade passed the Hotel Indonesia roundabout.

KONI chairman Wismoyo Arismunandar said before sending the shuttlers to the street that the victory belongs to the nation and not merely the athletes.