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(Photo: Xinhua)
Legends: Mia Audina
Date: 7/29/2020 2:32 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
The player who recorded two Olympic medals for two countries. A look back at Mia Audina’s unique career path. A player who followed her heart and won ours.

Since the Olympics began, Europe has managed to win at least a medal at every games bar Beijing 2008. One of the players ensuring this in Athens 2004 was Mia Audina for the Netherlands. However, her story begins back in her homeland of Indonesia. 

Mia Audina Tjiptawan was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1979, and it is no surprise that she grew up playing badminton with Indonesia being a dominant force during those years. Between the ages of 10-14, she witnessed Indonesian stars break up the almost decade long Chinese dominance in women’s singles. Sarwendah Kusumawardhani picked up a world championship bronze and silver in 1989 and 1991. Susi Susanti won world championship bronze in 1991 and then sensationally the Olympic gold in Barcelona 1992, and then world championship gold in Birmingham 1993.

At this pivotal moment, the young Mia Audina was inspired and spurred on by this success. At just 14 she showed enough ability to be selected for the Uber Cup team in 1994. Reaching the final, Indonesia faced China, who were on a run of five straight Uber Cup victories and were hunting their sixth to become the most winning team of all-time, surpassing Japan. 

The final was tied at 2-2. Up steps Mia Audina against a 19-year-old Zhang Ning. After a fierce battle, Audina became Indonesia’s hero by winning 11-7, 10-12, 11-4. They repeated this feat in 1996, with a more dominant 4-1 victory in the final against China. 

The year 1996 was a special one for Audina, as not only did she win her first World Grand Prix, defeating Denmark’s Camilla Martin in the final of the US Open, the 16-year-old went onto win silver for Indonesia at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. Despite a scare in the third round against GB’s Kelly Morgan, who went onto win silver at the 1998 European Championships, Audina had a commanding run, but came up short against Bang Soo Hyun of South Korea in the final. Audina became a highly popular star in Indonesia. The 5ft 4 competitor was known for her grit and speed on court.

Audina's switch to the Netherlands
The story behind her move to the Netherlands was one of love. She moved to the other side of the planet for her Dutch husband. Training in the Netherlands and continuing to represent Indonesia was deemed not viable, so Audina initiated proceedings to become Dutch.
 
Once ready to play for her adopted nation, Audina wasted little time to get going. In the 2002 European Championships, she reached the final where she met fellow Dutch player, Yao Jie, who herself was a naturalised player from China. Audina came away with a silver after a three-game battle, preventing Camilla Martin from securing her fourth title in a row. Interestingly, Brenda Beenhakker secured a bronze that year, ensuring that the Netherlands stood on each level of the women’s singles podium. This showed the emerging strength of the Dutch ladies, who in the same year won their first-ever medal at the Uber Cup with a bronze in Guangzhou. 

At the 2003 World Championships, she broke up the four-strong Chinese women and secured a bronze medal, again, a first for the Netherlands since Ridder/ Van Beusekom in the 1977 women’s doubles. This milestone gave positive momentum going into an Olympic year – 2004 Athens. Audina picked up the European Championship gold this time, defeating France’s Pi Hongyan in the final by the one-sided scoreline of 11-1, 11-0. 

Then came the defining moment of her career. In the summer of 2004, Audina embarked on a feat achieved by no other player, medalling at the Olympics for two different countries. The draw dictated that she would likely face her career rival, Denmark’s Camilla Martin, in the quarterfinal. It would have been a repeat of the mightily close European Championship semifinal earlier in the year. However, GB’s Tracey Hallam, with a colossal performance, defeated Martin to enter the quarterfinal. Audina was too strong for Hallam, and also for Gong in the semifinal. She faced none other than China’s Zhang Ning in the Olympic final. 

Thinking back 10 years ago to the 1994 Uber Cup final, where the young Audina faced against Zhang, becoming an instant Indonesian hero, it felt so right that these two would meet again in an Olympic final. Two very different journeys, but the same goal. After a well-fought and entertaining three-game final, it was Zhang who came out on top, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7. But for the Netherlands, it meant a first Olympic medal, and Audina was able to deliver this for them. Standing tearful and proud in the Goudi Olympic Hall, Audina captured the hearts of the Dutch people.  

Audina went on to add a European Championships silver in 2006 and also played a key role in the Netherlands’ historic 2006 Uber Cup silver in Tokyo. Once again Audina had a key battle with Zhang Ning in the final.

Audina retired with 15 career titles, three coming in women’s doubles. The golden girl in Indonesia followed her heart and through what she showed on court in Dutch colours, she won ours. 

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