After a testing year or so which saw tournaments fall victim to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the 23-year-old was relieved when her spot in Japan was confirmed.
Excitement at her maiden Olympic appearance however, is tinged with a bit of caution, and realism.
“I’m very grateful to God (for this chance). I feel extremely excited but I have to control myself, my thoughts and emotions,” said Rahayu.
“At the beginning of our preparations, I had conversations with my coach about how to manage the pressure I put on myself. Knowing our objective was important. And keeping it simple.”
Having an experienced ally by her side certainly helped. When Rahayu first paired with Polii in 2017, she was only 19 but her senior’s composure on court meant the partnership quickly progressed and blossomed, bringing multiple titles over the ensuing years.
Confidence was at his peak by the time Tokyo 2020 qualification began and by Rahayu’s admission, it was a period navigated with much poise.
“As I’m still young, emotions may run high but with Greysia, I’m able to keep calm and we still enjoy ourselves,” admits Rahayu.
“We went through with ease. There was no need to complicate matters. We just looked at the tournaments and figured out where we wanted to end up.
“It’s about taking it step by step. I didn’t want to think about semifinals or finals. Even at the Olympics, that’s how I will approach it. I just want to do my best.”
Doing their best later this month could see the world No.6s ending Indonesia’s wait for an Olympic medal in women’s doubles, the only discipline yet to result in a podium finish for the badminton-crazy nation.
“When it comes to tournaments, we are proud to finish champions but it’s the journey to get there that’s more significant. Titles are important but the steps we take mean more,” asserts Rahayu, who began 2021 on a winning note by lifting the YONEX Thailand Open in January.
“When I knew we qualified for the Olympics, it was like a dream. I never imagined I’d reach this point. I’m awfully proud of myself but I know I have a huge responsibility on my shoulders.”