Putri Kusuma Wardani would love to play against her badminton idol, Rio 2016 gold medallist Carolina Marin.
The Indonesian sees the three-time world women’s singles champion from Spain as a hero in the sport, and hopes to one day follow her to the top of the podium.
“I want to be Olympic champion,” Wardani shared in an exclusive interview with Olympics.com.
She recalls watching Marin during the Rio 2016 final, where the Spaniard became the first from her nation to clinch Olympic gold in a sport long dominated by players from Asia.
“It was very inspiring to watch her play, I like the way she plays.” – Wardini on Carolina Marin
Wardani is one of the up-and-coming players to watch on the Indonesian roster. At just 19 years of age, she has risen to the worlds top 50, and already has two World Tour titles to her name. This includes winning the Spanish Masters, an event usually dominated by Marin, who ended up withdrawing in 2021 as she opted focus on her preparations for the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Unseeded Wardani swept to victory, but rued the missed opportunity of playing her idol. “I would really like to play against Carolina Marin,” Wardani told us. “At the Spanish Masters 2021, she was meant to compete, but withdrew.”
Wardani learning to win
Wardani began 2022 by helping Indonesia lift the Asia Team championship title in Kuala Lumpur in February.
She was then selected to represent the nation as the regional South East Asian Games in May where she picked up silver in the team event and individual bronze.
The teenager also has four junior championship medals to her name, including a world team gold, and knows what it takes to stand on the top step of the podium.
In addition to her Olympic medal aims, Wardani states as a matter of fact: “I also want to win many other tournaments as well.”
It’s been a rapid rise from her early years in the sport, which she started after being encouraged by her father. He was a former athlete himself, and her mother played tennis. With their backing, Wardani excelled and was picked up as a club player before being invited to join the national team.
“My inspirations are my family, my coach and the women’s single team” the soft spoken teenager shared.
Indonesia won the inaugural women’s singles gold medal at the Barcelona 1992 Games thanks to Susi Susanti. Since then, no player has managed to repeat that feat with the nation last medalling in this category at Beijing 2008. Indonesia could soon be looking to Wardani to follow Marin’s lead and make Olympic gold medal history for her nation.