When the athletes arrived in Bali ahead of the “Indonesia Badminton Festival”, so did the gifts from fans. And they kept on coming. Flowers, balloons, cakes, chocolates, bouquets of noodles and money. Yes, that’s right, bouquets of noodles and money. Day after day.
The Westin Resort in Nusa Dua, where the players and their entourage are staying for the series of back-to-back tournaments is the epicentre of such gifts.
Kento Momota, Sapsiree Taerattanachai, Lee Zii Jia, Anders Antonsen, Lauren Smith and Indonesia’s Anthony Sinisuka Ginting and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo are among the most popular with the fans.
“I have never seen anything like this,” said an astonished Ginting. “Normally we get a few flowers during a tournament, but this is really crazy. It’s very nice of the fans to be so giving.”
England’s Lauren Smith has been amazed by the amount of gifts fans have sent to her.
“I’m truly overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness I’ve been shown. I really am lost for words,” she said on her Instagram.
World No.1 Momota, who had earlier stated it was “lonely” without fans at the usually packed-out arenas in Indonesia, said: “Indonesian fans are very generous and nice to me. I would like to thank them for their gifts.”
Thai superstar Taerattanachai also expressed her gratitude to her fans.
“Your encouragement means a lot to me, I’m thankful,” she said.
Two-time Olympic medallist Pusarla V. Sindhu was gifted traditional Indonesian attire, bracelets and flowers.
“It’s very kind of them and it’s very sweet of the fans, even though we’re in a bubble, It’s amazing the fans can give these gifts and show their interest in the sport. I can’t believe they are still sending gifts each day.”