By Nora Chang
Taipei, Sep. 4 — “Thank you all for the glory you brought to Taiwan. The country is great because of you,” President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told the national team which won 17 gold, 19 silver and 31 bronze medals at the Asian Games in Jakarta, and those who provided logistical support for the team.
The nation’s athletes and logistical support groups, including coaches, team chefs, physicians, dietitians and trainers received a guard of honor as guests of the Presidential Office where Tsai hosted a ceremony to welcome home “Taiwan heroes.”
Not only did President Tsai receive the athletes, Ministry of National Defense (國防部) also sent out two F-16 Fighting Falcons last night to fly with their flight by China Airlines after it entered the airspace and even shot 120 flares to celebrate and honor the national players.
Many athletes recorded the moments using their phones and said they are incredibly moved, emotional, and honored when they see it.
“I was so excited and thrilled when seeing the two F-16 flying with us. It made me feel like it is all worth it,” said Cheng Jhu-ling (鄭竹玲), who won one gold, one silver, and one bronze in soft tennis.
The representatives took turns returning home, the last groups including baseball, men’s basketball, men’s volleyball, soft tennis, and table tennis team that arrived yesterday at the Taoyuan Airport terminal 1 at which was full of fans waiting to meet and receive them.
The baseball team, mainly composed by amateurs, beat South Korea team which is made up of full professionals and achieved their goal of grabbing a medal; men’s basketball also created a miracle by entering top 4 in the past 48 years for the first time.
“We made this as a team, including professionals and other team members. We believed in the same thing and created the impossible. And the F-16 even came to pick us! This experience is really memorable,” captain Chen Ying-jun (陳盈駿) said.
“It is a pity that we didn’t grab a medal. Yet at the same time it means that we are not enough and still have something to work on. We will keep on practicing and I am very grateful for my coach and all the other team members who provided me faith,” said one of the national besketball player Liu Cheng (劉錚).
Taiwan finished in seventh place on the medals table with 67 medals in total and the second highest number of gold medals ever won by Taiwan at the Asian Games.