THE BEST OF ASIA: Leani Ratri Oktila (Indonesia)
Leani Ratri Oktila is an Indonesian para badminton player, who is the current world #1 in Women’s singles SL4. She also competed in the Women's doubles SL3-SU5 and Mixed doubles SL3-SU5 category. Oktila is one of Indonesia’s most successful para badminton players and was even awarded the 2018 and 2019 Female Para Badminton Player of the Year by BWF! As her amazing career so far has shown, she is definitely one of Asia’s best players.
Badminton has always been a part of Oktila’s life, and she’s loved the sport ever since she was young. She’s been playing in able-bodied badminton tournament's since she was 7 years old and was competing at a national level since around the year 1999. However, in 2011 Oktila was involved in a motorcycle accident in 2011 which caused damaged her left leg, resulting it to be shorter than her right.
The incident changed her life forever, however she did not give up and instead 2 years later, continued her love of playing badminton. In an interview with BWF she tells them, “I was 20 years old at the time (of the accident) and had already been playing badminton since I was seven, so it just felt natural to come back to the game but I could not have done it without my family,” she said. Oktila has emphasized that her parents and her family members have always encouraged her and has been her greatest source of strength. “My father is a farmer, my mother a homemaker. They are not athletes but always encouraged us to follow our dreams, and in a way, achieve theirs for us too”, she says to BWF.
It was her parents that helped her after the accident, and it was her father who pushed her to go the training sessions. Her sibling, she says, all played badminton with her which gave her great motivation to keep picking up the racket and playing. And thankfully she did, because over the course of these past 10 plus years, Oktila has been so successful in her para badminton career. Some of her achievements include: 3 titles at the Para-Badminton World Championships, 3 gold medals in the Asian Para Games and 6 gold medals at the ASEAN Para Games!
Overall, her success comes down to her strength and determination in being the best and the willingness of not giving up. She’s always been thankful of the people around her who have supported her in every step of the way from her family to her teammates and coaches. “I’m thankful to God I’m surrounded by people in my life who are happy when I win or comfort me after a loss”, she tells BWF.
But Oktila still has even bigger dreams. Right now she is competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Games where para badminton has made its debut. She is here to make history."My biggest dream is to win a Paralympic gold medal," said Oktila. Not only does she want to win for herself, but also for her country Indonesia. “The best thing about being an international athlete is when I win, the world sees what Indonesia is capable of. I get to make my country and family proud,” she says.
We wish her all the best of luck this week at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. We’re so proud of everything that she’s achieved and will continue to achieve in her para badminton career.