Thursday, January 10, 2008

Suryo's sprint brings golden joy

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima

Suryo Agung Wibowo never thought he would put his name in the SEA Games history book by setting a new record in the men's 100 meter sprint.

He never guessed he would be the first to win gold for Indonesia at the 24th Games.

Never crossed his mind either that he would become only the third Indonesian ever to win a gold medal from the most prestigious event in track and field.

But he did it convincingly in racing across the finish line to a cheering crowd at His Majesty the King's 80th Birthday Anniversary Stadium here Friday.

Suryo crossed the finish line in 10.25 seconds, breaking the old record set by Reanchai Seeharwong of Thailand in 1999 by .01 seconds.

His victory brought slight relief to the Indonesian camp after the country's frustrating performance at the biennial event.

Suryo -- who began his running at Central Java's student training center -- immediately called his two-month-old son Salwa Azra Wibowo and wife Astati Azriyani in their hometown of Surakarta, Central Java.

"I dedicated my first medal to my beloved wife and my son," said Suryo, adding he would bring his family to stay with him in Jakarta.

Born Oct. 8, 1983, Suryo said his progress in track and field was part of the strength and conditioning program initiated by the SEA Games task force in April.

"The track and field squad's physical trainer Robert John Ballard brings a lot of experience to the team. We should praise him for that," he said.

Ballard replied: "I couldn't be happier. I feel like a father, because I trained them from the beginning."

"Indonesia has a great resource of athletes and it's just about how to identify them and train them. A commitment to bringing them up to the next level is very important," he said.

Suryo, 24, is a former striker for the Persis Solo junior soccer club. He turned to track in 1999 and had to wait until 2003 before joining the national squad.

In his first Games experience, he came home empty-handed in 2003. Two years ago, he improved his performance at the Philippines Games by taking the bronze.

The gold medal earns him the Rp 200 million (about US$21,600) promised by State Minister for Youth and Sports Affairs, Adhyaksa Dault. Suryo said he would use his bonus for haj pilgrimage.

The victory also earned him a spot in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

"I'm ready to compete again. I will follow the instructions from my coach and physical trainer. It has been proven the physical training is imperative," said Suryo.

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