Christie wins host Indonesia’s signature gold at Asian Games

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Jonatan Christie of Indonesia salutes to the national flag during the medal ceremony for the men's singles badminton at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Aug. 28. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
Jonatan Christie of Indonesia salutes to the national flag during the medal ceremony for the men’s singles badminton at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Aug. 28. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

Jakarta, Indonesia (AP) — Every host has a signature event that defines the success of the games, at least in the context of sport.

Jonatan Christie won that for the 2018 Asian Games hosts with a 21-18, 20-22, 21-15 win over Taiwan’s Chou Tien-chen to secure the badminton men’s singles gold medal for Indonesia.

The 21-year-old Christie, nicknamed Jojo, grabbed the national attention with his shirt-shredding celebration following his semifinal win over Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto, and intensified it with his pressure-packed win in the final.

Just like national hero Tan Joe Hok did in 1962 when Indonesia last hosted the games.

Christie ripped off his shirt again to celebrate the gold, and twirled his pointer finger around for emphasis. And he saluted when the Indonesian flag was raised above the podium.

Badminton is the national sport in Indonesia, although it hasn’t won the men’s singles title at the Asian Games since Taufik Hidayat won back-to-back golds in 2002 and ’06. China’s Lin Dan won both in between.

The hosts picked up another badminton gold in the men’s doubles — it was an all-Indonesian final — after top-ranked Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan beat India’s Olympic and world championship silver medalist and millionaire Pusarla Venkata Sindhu 21-13, 21-16 in 36 minutes for the women’s singles final.

Top-ranked Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo had to save a match point before beating Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto 13-21, 21-18, 24-22 in the men’s doubles.

The Jiang twins from China created history by winning the duet in artistic swimming, returning to the Asian Games after extended breaks to have children.

Both had baby daughters and spent two years away from the sport before deciding in 2016 to make a comeback.

“This is a very significant medal because it means so much to us and our families,” Jiang Wenwen said. “I think our performance demonstrated that mothers can do anything in sport and this will be a very good example for our children.”

The 31-year-old siblings, gold medalists in 2006 and 2010 and the oldest artistic swimmers to compete at the Asian Games, topped the technical and free routines to win with 186.5101 points, more than four clear of Yukiko Inui and Megumu Yoshida who took silver for Japan. Another set of twins, Yekaterina and Alexandra Nemich, collected bronze for Kazakhstan.

South Korea’s Na Ah-reum picked up her third gold medal of the games when she joined Kim You-ri, Kim Hyun-ji and Lee Ju-mi to win the women’s team pursuit at the track cycling velodrome in 4 minutes, 31.222 seconds.

Na was the first cyclist to win both the road race and the time trial at the same Asian Games when she took both titles last week.

South Korea won three of the four gold medals on offer in archery, and Malaysia ended Thailand’s domination in the sepaktakraw with gold in the men’s regu.

There are 31 gold medals on the line in 12 sports on the 10th day of competition in the co-host cities of Jakarta and Palembang.