Friday, December 14, 2007
Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima
Indonesia martial artists flopped in their matches on Thursday but controversial calls by Southeast Asian Games referees were to blame, they said.
Karate, judo and tae kwon do coaches and other sports officials were also upset, agreeing that the referees had favored host Thailand.
It was the second clamor of the day after the Filipino boxers forfeited their matches protesting unfair calls.
From the three martial arts, only karateka Ismail Aswar got a gold -- in the men's under-70 kilogram. He defeated Viet Bang Buy of Vietnam 2-0. The bronze was shared by Malaysia's Shaharudin Jamaludin and Myanmar's Htike Aung Thein.
Even State Minister for Youth and Sports Affairs Adhyaksa Dault felt the emotion. Seeing Indonesia's fate unfold in a tae kwon do match, he threatened boycott, shouting near the arena.
Secretary general of the Indonesia Karatedo Association, Madju Dharyanto Hutapea, said the referees were clearly favoring the host athletes but acknowledged that Indonesia's fighters could have been more self-confident and relaxed.
"They have been ready for the event for 12 months and their performance during the last few international tournaments was good," he said.
"But I knew they weren't enjoying the games. Most of the athletes weren't able to show off their best performance, including Donny Darmawan and Christo Mondolu. With their level of experience, they aren't supposed to perform like this."
Donny and Christo took only the silver medal in their respective divisions, men's -65 kilogram and men's -75kg.
Indonesia had aimed to take four golds, of the 19 on offer in karate, but got only one. This was a worse result than in 2005 at the Philippines Games where the national squad took five gold.
In tae kwon do, Fernando Yulius was the sole medal contributor; he got a bronze in the men's -72 kg.
Vice chairman of the Indonesian Taekwondo Association Leo Nam Khiong said the country could have added two more gold, meaning Mela Mayasari in women's -65kg and Basuki Nugroho in men's +72kg, had the refereeing been fair.
"Mela and Basuki were ousted on unfair calls. It's perfectly clear that Mela outperformed the Thai (fighter). I couldn't accept it when Mela touched the head twice and the referee gave the points to the Thai. They (Indonesian fighters) had to defend against their rivals but also the referees."
Mela could not hide her disappointment. "I really wanted to continue the game, I was so disappointed with the result. I've been gearing up for a year only to be cheated by the referees and lose," she said.
Judokas Johanes Taslim and Krisna Bayu presented the silver medals after losing in their final matches.