As Ameruddin Pora’s relatives gathered in his living room, shouting at the final of the Olympics badminton women’s doubles, he locked himself in his room to watch his daughter win Indonesia’s historic gold medal.
Apriyani Rahayu, 23, and her veteran partner Greysia Polii picked up the badminton-mad country’s first Olympic gold medal in Tokyo on Monday, and its first-ever Olympic medal in the women’s doubles.
“Everyone was screaming with joy outside, I decided to lock myself up in my room so that I can focus (on) praying while watching the game alone, and Allah heard my prayers. She won the gold medal,” 63-year-old Pora told AFP on Tuesday a day after his daughter’s win.
Her fellow Indonesians were also celebrating, taking to social media on Monday to hail the gold medal win, while President Joko Widodo said the victory was a gift for the country’s independence day that is slated for August 17.
Pora said his daughter used the death of her mother, Siti Jauhar in 2015, as fuel for the momentous victory, a gift to the woman who inspired her rise to become a professional badminton player.
One day before flying to Tokyo, Rahayu flew home to Konawe city in southeast Sulawesi island to visit her mother’s grave and to ask for a blessing from her father.
The badminton star’s relatives also came to Pora’s house to pray for her during the short home visit.
“She has this tradition whenever she wants to attend a competition, she always returns home to meet her parents, asking me for a prayer,” he said.
“Our prayers are finally answered by God.”
As soon as Rahayu arrived in Tokyo, she called her dad on a daily basis to ask him to continue his prayers for her.
He said his daughter’s success is thanks to a combination of those prayers and her own hard work.
“Whenever she leaves the hotel heading to the venue, she always called me asking for prayers. I always tell her to be calm and leave everything to Allah,” he said.
He had some advice for his daughter about securing more golds after her Olympic win: listen to your coaches and don’t become arrogant.
“She is always a very motivated person. She never gets tired practicing,” he said.
“Don’t get me wrong, I don’t only pray for Rahayu, but also for Greysia. I pray for both. They made us proud.”