The cornerstone of Indonesia’s first Thomas Cup victory in 19 years was the resurgence of Jonatan Christie.
It was in Indonesia’s last group match, against Chinese Taipei’s Wang Tzu Wei, that the turnaround happened. The 21-17 21-13 result bolstered his confidence and helped carry Indonesia to the pinnacle of the men’s team event.
The last couple of years have been rough on Christie. He did follow up his Asian Games 2018 gold with some impressive performances in 2019, but the truncated season of 2020 and the Asian Leg this year saw early exits.
When he arrived at Tokyo 2020 he was dealing with the trauma of the death of his older brother Ivan earlier in the year.
“After the Olympics I felt my confidence was not good,” said Christie. “I spoke to my coach and family on how to improve my performance. We also talked to the psychologist, they gave me some tips on bettering my performance. I was happy to see Anthony (Ginting) get bronze, and at the same time I motivated myself.”
He also knew he had to get fitter.
The work that he did towards improving his fitness was evident in Aarhus. The quarterfinals, against Ng Tze Yong, took 75 minutes; a day later, he outlasted Anders Antonsen in 100 minutes, paving the way for a takedown of the home favourites; and in the final, there was no dip in energy even as the match against Li Shi Feng crossed the 80-minute mark.
“The win over Antonsen gave me a lot of confidence because when the third game (against Li Shi Feng) started, I said let’s go to play 100 minutes again, or maybe 120 minutes again, we’ll see! This is the biggest achievement for me, bigger than the Asian Games.
“Before we left for the Sudirman Cup and the Thomas Cup, we knew the schedule, we knew we have back-to-back events. The coach pushed me and others to train harder, especially to improve our physical ability.
“I just had to keep my motivation stable first. Before this tournament I did not feel good about my performance and my ambition. I had to bring back my motivation and performance.”
After every win, Christie looked heavenwards to offer homage. He was thinking of his brother.
“Without God, I’m nothing. It’s also for my big brother, this is for him. He’s inspiring me… I know the difference with him and without him. And I want to see my father and mother proud also. When my brother passed away, I tried my best to achieve a medal.
“I think of him all the time.”