Leani Ratri Oktila is a changed person at this year’s HULIC DAIHATSU BWF Para Badminton World Championships 2022 in Tokyo.
For starters, Oktila is returning to the court after a year-long gap, which explained her rustiness even after coming off a victory with long-time women’s doubles partner Khalimatus Sadiyah in the standing SL3-SU5 category on Wednesday.
“My game was okay,” Oktila said after their 21-8 21-5 victory over the French-Portuguese pair of Catherine Naudin and Beatriz Monteiro.
“But I feel my body is still too heavy. My belly is not back to its normal state yet. It’ll probably take another six months for me to get back into shape.”
She proved form is temporary but class is permanent with a further two victories in women’s doubles and mixed on Thursday to progress to the knockout phase of the competition.
Oktila had taken a break from badminton to give birth three months ago to a baby boy, and has been away since the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, where she won two gold in the doubles events and silver in the women’s singles SL4.
“After the Paralympic Games, I hadn’t been training or playing, so I had taken a break for a year. It has been just three months since the baby arrived, so it is still a long way to go,” she said.
Oktila was quick to dispel any notion of wanting to win medals at this year’s World Championships. She is the defending champion in the women’s singles SL4 category, a silver medallist in the women’s doubles SL3-SU5, and a gold medal winner in the mixed doubles SL3-SU5 with Hary Susanto.
“I just want to play well in this tournament. I’m not thinking too far ahead,” Oktila said.
“I want to make sure that there are no aches, pains or injuries so that I can return to Indonesia safely. I miss my baby, so I haven’t set any targets in this tournament.”
Oktila hasn’t had much time to practice, with training the last thing on her mind these days.
“Motherhood has changed me,” she said. “All I think about is the baby and how he’s doing.
“I barely get any time to rest at home because even when I’m training, I’m always thinking about the baby. I get to sleep maybe three or four hours everyday because the baby wakes up,” she continued.
“I’m not getting enough rest these days. My sister is looking after him right now, so I’m on video call with the baby everyday.”
She is pleased, however, to be back on court with her doubles partner Sadiyah.
“I missed her,” Oktila said. “Khalimatus would always come to my home every day after training to chat with me. It’s great to be back with her.”