Saturday, November 24, 2007
Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Indonesian karatekas have set a modest target of four gold medals at the 24th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, from Dec. 6-15.
Head coach Willem Mantiri is upbeat his athletes will reach the target despite the absence of veteran Umar Syarif -- who suffered a knee injury at the Asian Games in Doha last December.
Mantiri pointed to the good results by his karatekas at several tournaments, including the Students Championship in Vietnam last June where Indonesia won six gold, six silver and six bronze, and the Australian Open in July where Hendro Salim won the men's over 75 kilogram division.
Hendro, 19, will replace Umar at the SEA Games.
"He has fought in four international tournaments in the past 12 months and always brought home medals," said Mantiri on Friday during a final training session at the Bung Karno Sports Complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta.
Other gold medals are expected from Christo Mondolu (-75kg), who also won gold in Doha, and in the men's and women's kata team events.
The men's kata team is comprised of Ismail Aswar, Fidelys Lolobua and Faizal Zainuddin, while the women's team consists of Yuli Eka Yanti, Dewi Yulianti and Alit Tresna.
Mantiri, however, warned his fighters to remain vigilant of their rivals from Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.
"We are really prepared for the SEA Games but we have to be careful with Malaysia because they are powerful in most of the categories," he said.
"While Vietnam proved their strength by winning five golds at the 2005 SEA Games."
"Thai fighters will have the advantage as the host and we have to be watchful because they can do anything to win the fight," he said.
Indonesia will send nine female and 11 male fighters to the SEA Games to compete in 17 events.
At the last SEA Games, two years ago, the national squad won five gold, five silver and four bronze, followed by Vietnam, Malaysia and host Philippines.