Thursday, January 10, 2008

'Rp 1b for Olympics winners'

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Matheos Viktor Messakh
, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

National Sports Council (KONI) chairwoman Rita Subowo has promised to provide a Rp 1 billion (US$105,876) cash bonus for each 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medalist -- the figure has not been raised since eight years ago.

"Just like the previous Olympic games four years ago, we will provide each gold medalist with Rp 1 billion, silver medalists with Rp 500 million and bronze medalists with Rp 250 million," she said Monday in Jakarta.

KONI will look for sponsors for the bonuses. Rita said the council would not take it from the Rp 35 billion fund allocated for the Olympic Games training program, by the office of the State Minister for Youth and Sports Affairs.

"We will look for sponsors and I think it will be quite easy because we will not be sending many athletes to the Olympic Games."

Four years ago, men's singles shuttler Taufik Hidayat received the Rp 1 billion cash bonus from KONI for his Olympic gold medal. In the 2000 Sydney Olympics, badminton men's doubles gold medalists Candra Wijaya and Tony Gunawan received the same amount, from the Extra Joss energy drink producer.

Rita said KONI and the sports ministry would discuss Tuesday the details of the Olympic preparations.

"Some sports disciplines are still holding their qualifying rounds for the Games. But I can say that we will send between 40 and 60 athletes to Beijing," she said.

Around 20 athletes from track and field, archery, badminton and weightlifting events have qualified for the Olympics. Eighty more athletes from 12 disciplines will also be groomed in the training camp for the quadrennial event, Indonesia's Olympics chef-de-mission Rosihan Arsyad said. Some of whom were gold medalists at the 2007 Southeast Asian Games and the 2006 Asian Games.

Rita said KONI would also accommodate the possibility of athletes from several sports to receive wild cards for the Olympics.

"Just like in tae kwon do and boxing, the qualifying process has already finished but there is a possibility some athletes may be given wild cards, so we will wait and see," she said.

"It is an honor for any athletes who get a ticket to the Games to participate in the world's top event," she added.

Was Indonesia success in Thailand illusory?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Damar Harsanto and Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia accomplished its mission of finishing fourth at the Southeast Asian Games in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, earlier this month. That was better than two years ago in the Philippines, when Indonesia finished fifth.

With 56 gold, 64 silver and 83 bronze medals, Indonesia deserved to celebrate. However, one question remains: Do the results reflect the real situation of the country's sports development?

This is worth asking because more than half of Indonesia's gold medals came from just six sports, out of the 38 in which it participated.

The six sports were badminton and track and field, each contributing seven gold medals; weightlifting, pencak silat and cycling with five golds each; and canoeing and kayaking with a total of four golds.

Archery delivered three gold medals, and other sports had one or two at best.

Furthermore, the gold-medal sweep in badminton has an asterisk attached. Our team took advantage of the absence of Malaysia's top shuttlers, who were resting to gear up for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Indonesia opted to perform fully armed.

When asked about the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI)'s policy, head of training Lius Pongoh said: "Don't ask us. Ask the government why they burdened us with a target of four gold medals. We had no other option but to play with full force."

PBSI was not the only sports organization fielding its top athletes to compete in regional events. Indonesia relies on its old hands to guarantee gold medals.

"We field senior athletes because they are the best that we have right now. Most juniors were not good enough during the qualifying screening for the SEA Games," said Achmad Sutjipto, head of the country's special task force for the Games.

"We only send those who can win, not just compete (to gain experience)," State Minister for Youth and Sports Affairs Adhyaksa Dault said.

A month before the national contingent's departure to Thailand, the minister boasted that a third place in the Games would be within reach.

With an all-out effort like this, Indonesia should have won more gold in other sports.

Some athletes who shone at the Philippines Games two years ago -- including shooter Bary Agustini, bowlers Ryan Leonard Lalisang and Putty Insavilla Armein, Wynne Prakusya in tennis, Sony Dwi Kuncoro in badminton, Muhammad Hussein in table tennis, Peter Taslim in judo, Christo Mondolu in karate, Basuki Nugroho in taekwondo, Susyana Tjan in wushu -- crashed out.

We often forget that those athletes may not be able to carry a heavy burden on their shoulders every time there are multi-sport events.

Even President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told them not to worry about the final outcome.

"Do your best and give it your all. Don't be afraid of losing and don't let yourselves be burdened by it," he said when meeting the 400-strong squad at the Merdeka Palace yard.

Interestingly, new faces and youngsters who were considered second-rate athletes came out to fight for their places among the lineup of champions, brimming with motivation to accomplish the task their seniors had failed to carry out.

The good news is we have a list of them, much longer than the above list of medal hopefuls.

They are competitors like Tannya Roumimper and Sharon Limansantoso in bowling, Suryo Agung Wibowo, Triyaningsih, Yahuza and Dwi Ratnawati in track and field, Ika Yuliana and I Gusti Nyoman Puruhito in archery, Sandy Gumulya in tennis, Pia Zebadiah Bernadet in badminton, Angeline Magdalena Ticoalu in billiards, Andy Arselawandi in bodybuilding, Ryan Ariehaan Hillmant in road cycling, Shenny Amelia in diving, and Edi Kurniawan, Eko Yuli Irawan and Sinta Darmariani in weightlifting.

From the world of martial arts, there are new names like Freddy in wushu, Ira Purnamasari in judo, Aswar Ismail in karate, Diyan Kristiyanto, Pengki Simbar, Ni Nyoman Suparniti, Tuti Winarni in pencak silat, Amalia Kurniasih Palupi in taekwondo, and Eko Yuli Irawan and Fahriyansah in wrestling.

Those winners are now enjoying a Rp 200 million (US$21,505) cash bonus each -- with the exception of double gold medalists like Suryo, Triyaningsih and the badminton squad, who get double.

But there is a good lesson to be learned from Indonesian Track and Field Association chairman Bob Hasan, who chose to provide the bonus in the form of scholarships and employment.

National Sports Council chairwoman Rita Subowo said after her election earlier this year that she would prioritize providing scholarships for these world-class athletes, as "they need the bait instead of the fish".

There was also a new phenomenon on display during these Games: sports organizations helped by a team of foreign coaches and experts were the ones that excelled.

This exposes our coaches' lack of knowledge of sports sciences. It is time for the Council to require national coaches to go to more workshops and trainings to support them in designing the best programs. Learning from foreign experts is just one way. Another way is to make use of the School of Sports Science in several state universities.

Most of our young athletes now face a challenge to prove that their victories at the Games were not a fluke. They need support from the relevant sports associations to give them the chance to compete in bigger events.

In the next eight months, Indonesian athletes will face the world's biggest multi-sport event: the Olympic Games in Beijing. The government has promised to help groom the juniors for the quadrennial event.

"I will establish a special task force to follow up on those young athletes who win gold in the SEA Games. I want them to be trained in a special and intensive camp. We will allocate Rp 1 billion to groom them," Adhyaksa said.

Let's hope it is not just an empty promise from a state official, who is happy that his mission was accomplished -- partly thanks to those young gold medalists.

Big discounts for souvenirs on Games final day

Monday, December 17, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand

Souvenirs have always been very much a part of sporting events and going back home without one would be such a miss.

Thailand, as the host, went all out to provide a wide range of souvenirs for the 24th Southeast Asian Games, which concluded Saturday evening.

Thai Factory Sporting Goods, Ltd. (FBT)'s deputy managing director, Monchai Chokephaibulkit, said he had instructed his employees to sell the remaining 600 souvenirs over the last two days of the Games.

Sports fans, athletes, local and foreign journalists, volunteers, the home supporters and even police officers rushed to buy FBT products at His Majesty the King's 80th Birthday Stadium on Saturday.

FBT is one of the official sponsors of the Games, and has been supporting Thai athletes and domestic and international sporting events in the country by providing sports equipment and apparel for about 40 years.

At the Games, FBT also provided the uniforms for about 40,000 organizing staff members, including referees, stadium staff and volunteers, at an estimated cost of 25 million baht (US$750,750).

"Our main goal in sponsoring the Games was to make them successful. We gave discounts so that people would have the chance to shop and be part of the Games," Chokephaibulkit said.

"Our sponsorship here is worth 24 million baht. As a result of our sponsorship, people are happy with the brand, which means we have another group of loyal costumers."

SEA Games merchandise was available at six other outlets in Khorat (the familiar name for Nakhon Ratchasima), three outlets in the capital Bangkok, and two more in Chon Buri province.

Fans could purchase the SEA Games mascot, Nong Can -- a gray Siamese cat with a radiant smile -- in many cute postures. The rights to SEA Games souvenirs, including the mascot dolls that were given to SEA Games medalists, are owned by a company named TRT.

"We won the rights to the souvenirs for the International Horticultural Exposition in Chiang Mai late last year. We have once again been entrusted with the rights for these SEA Games, and we hope we will get the rights to the souvenirs for the next SEA Games in Laos as well," said TRT owner Phaphan Phangla-or.

The mascot for the 2009 SEA Games in Laos is expected to be a Laotian elephant.

Phaphan said his firm started out as a small family business, and that his success was due to his long-standing involvement in sports.

Beach volleyballers close the final day with gold

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh
, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima

Indonesia's stalwarts Andy Ardiyansah and Koko Prasetyo Darkuncoro took another gold medal Saturday on the final day of the 24th Southeast Asian Games by defeating the host tandems.

The Indonesians did not need much effort to dump the Thai duo of Sataporn Sawangrueang and Bornworn Yungtin on cloudy day at His Majesty the King's 80th Anniversary Stadium, with the scores being 21-17, 21-19 in 20 and 22 minutes respectively.

The bronze medal was bagged by Cambodians Sopheap Kong and Chamnap Som, who bounced back after a 21-14 defeat in the first set to beat Filipinos Parley Tupaz and Rhovyl Ferayo 21-11 and 15-13.

Andy and Koko displayed a solid defense and sharp strikes to control the entire two sets amid the fanatically cheering local crowd.

The first eight points of the first set saw the national spikers playing carefully to assess their rivals' weaknesses. But the Indonesians then took control to lead the rest of the game, said head coach Slamet Mulyanto.

"If the Thais were faced with hard and fast strikes, they might have fought back and played better to win the game. But Andy and Koko chose the right strategy of slowing down the tempo, serving slowly and playing gently," he said.

In the second set, the Thais trailed closely at 17-16.

Andy said they had wanted badly to finish the game quickly but the coach told them to be patient and slow the game down.

"After we lost three points in a row, we realized that we had to change our style and we did it. I'm satisfied we were able to defend our gold medal," said the 30-year-old Andy.

"The Thai team is not so tough for us. The Philippine team is tougher," he added.

Koko said the game was less impressive than the 2005 Games when he faced Andy in an all-Indonesian final.

"The Manila game was more impressive as we came away with two medals," he said.

In the women's competition, Indonesians Yokbeth Kapasiang and Devota Rahawarin failed to take a medal after losing to Luk Teck Hua and Beh Shun Thing of Malaysia 21-12, 21-7 in only 27 minutes in the playoff for the bronze.

The gold and silver medals went to Thai duos Kulna Kamoltip and Yupa Phokongploy, and Sannok Jarunee and Tenpaksee Usa.

Indonesian Volleyball Association secretary-general Nyoman Sukesna said he was satisfied with the result as the target of bringing home two gold medals in the sport had been achieved in both indoor volleyball and beach volleyball.

SEA Games close in a blaze of color

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand

Fireworks lit up the night sky as nearly 9,000 performers from northeastern Thailand took part in the colorful closing ceremony of the 24th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games at His Majesty the King's 80th Birthday Anniversary Stadium on Saturday.

The ceremony kicked off at 6 p.m with "A message from the heart" performance after the arrival of Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont.

"I am pleased to preside over the closing ceremony. Sports events not only strengthen relations between nations but also provide opportunities for athletes to develop their skills," Chulanont said.

Governor of Nakhon Ratchasima province, Sutee Markboon, who presided over the closing ceremony, said in his speech, "The 24th SEA Games have now ended but hopefully the opening and closing ceremonies will leave you with a lasting impression and fond memories of pleasure, friendship and spirit,"

"We want this closing ceremony to be a tribute to our country and a source of pride for Korat (the familiar name for Nakhon Ratchasima) residents as representatives of all Thai people."

The Games coincided with the celebration of King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 80th birthday, which fell on Dec. 5.

Thailand National Olympic Committee chairman Yuthasak Sasiprapa handed over the SEA Games flag to Laotian Deputy Prime Minister Somsawat Lengsavad during the ceremony. Laos will host the 2009 Games.

Filipino swimmer Miguel Molina and Thailand's Natthanan Jungkajang were named the most successful athletes of the games, with both winning four gold medals in the swimming pool. They were each presented with cash prizes of 330,000 baht (about US$10,000) and a trophy by the prime minister.

Chulanont was awarded the International Olympic Committee Order by the IOC for his role as the SEA Games organizing committee chairman.

Host Thailand topped the medal standings with 182 gold, 123 silver and 102 bronze medals, while Indonesia came fourth with 56 gold, 63 silver and 83 bronze medals. Timor Leste was the only country that will go home entirely empty-handed.

The Games, however, were marred with complaints of biased judging, ranging from minor grumbles to official boycotts. Thailand Tourism and Sports Minister Suvit Yodmani said the Games were fair and Thailand's gold medals were well-deserved.

"It's down to the morale of our athletes," Suvit told Reuters.

"They have the crowd behind them, they are in high spirits. They also have the support of the government and have worked hard on sports psychology and mental preparation. I believe this will show at the Olympics too."

The ceremony featured mass dance performances and a fireworks display.

The 25th Games will be referred to as the "Vientiane Games" as they will take place in the Laotian capital in 2009. Lack of facilities has forced the host to reduce the number of disciplines from 43 this year to 25, with cycling, basketball, gymnastics, hockey, rowing and weight lifting being given the chop.

Associated Press reported that events like tenpin bowling, petanque, billiards, traditional boat racing, sepak takraw, wushu, muay Thai and pencak silat are likely to be retained.

University complex becomes village

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima

With a budget of 100 million Thai baht (about US$3.2 million) the SEA Games Committee and Nakhon Ratchasima province have turned Suranaree University of Technology, the renowned university of Nakhon Ratchasima province, into the athletes' village for the two-week event.

The university has built new accommodations and renovated some of the school's dormitories for the Games.

Thailand began using the university complex for multi-sport events during the 1998 Asian Games when the main venues took place at Thammasat University complex, just outside the capital, Bangkok.

A total of 6,541 athletes from 11 countries at the biennial event stay in the village located about 20 kilometers from Nakhon Ratchasima (better known as Khorat). The village opened to the athletes Nov. 26 and will close Dec. 16.

Each room is fully furnished, air conditioned and furnished with a bed, television, closet and computer desk.

"In comparison to other facilities, they have a lot people helping, more than any other facility I've ever been to. They keep it very clean and I'm impressed. They give me good place to sleep, and also great food. They take care of us very well over there," said Filipino pole-vaulter Debra Samson, who won a silver medal at the Games.

Athletes can easily connect to the outside world as the village is equipped with telephone, mail and Internet facilities. Transportation is also arranged to and from the village throughout the tournament.

"Transportation is always available. We don't have to walk very much. They have bikes and shuttle buses in the village, and transportation from one venue to another is fast," Samson said.

Kroui Suan Dusit (Suan Dusit Kitchen) is tasked with providing food for the athletes. The company also provided services for the 1998 Asian Games and this year's World University Games.

The signature menu for Thai dishes includes tom yam (spicy sour soup), khao man kai (rice with chicken) and a wide variety of yums (Thai salads), winning over the hearts -- and stomachs -- of athletes.

"I've been to the SEA Games four times and only in Vietnam and here have we had an athletes' village. I feel this is better than Vietnam. The food is very good and there are lots of choices. Here we have halal food, while in Vietnam everything was mixed so we don't even knew what is halal and what is not," said hammer thrower gold medalist Siti Shahida Abdullah of Malaysia.

To add to the enjoyment of the athletes, the village has designated and "International Zone" and "Cultural Plaza" to exhibit performances from participating countries each night.

Thai actors and actresses have been invited to join the activities while athletes are also allowed to take part.

Since Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana of Thailand also stays in the village, stern security measures have been taken during the competition.

"I feel very safe, because they check everything. It's kind of annoying, but it makes me feel safe," said Samson.

Small lessons to learn from the Games winners

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Damar Harsanto and Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima

Greatness happens when a person or a group of people is willing to walk that extra mile.

For Indonesia's pesilat, who romped five gold, three silver and four bronze medals at the 24th Southeast Asian Games, the extra mile meant going back to basics.

"We flew to the Shanghai University of Sports Science where Olympic 110-meter hurdles gold medalist Liu Xiang and Houston Rockets center Yao Ming were trained, to gain first-hand experience: Pursue knowledge as best you can, even if you have to go all the way to China," Indonesia's pencak silat head coach Indro Catur Haryono told The Jakarta Post recently.

"We learned a lot there, including discipline in training, the importance of sports research and treating sport as a profession as well as experienced world-class training standards," he said.

After three months of training, the 14-strong pesilat squad flew directly to Thailand, a week before the start of their tanding (competition). They rented a modest apartment near the pencak silat competition venue, which was more than 40 kilometers away from the athletes' village. They even hired a cook to meet their needs for halal food, as most of them are Muslims.

With such meticulous preparation, Indonesia's pesilat prepared themselves well -- they had done their homework and were ready to roll and make history.

Indonesia regained its supremacy in the sport by winning five of the 14 gold medals on offer to top the medal tally and become the overall champion of the traditional martial art.

In the track and field, the Indonesian team -- which claimed seven gold, seven silver and five bronze medals -- also went the extra mile.

Team manager Sumartoyo Martodihardjo said the team realized its "traditional" physical training was substandard, with outdated techniques.

Then along came physical trainer Robert John Ballard of Australia, who started training the team in April.

"He (Ballard) told us certain exercises had to be done to train certain muscles and joints for optimum performance. We worked on our weaknesses and began to improve our training standards," he told the Post recently.

Sprinter John Herman Muray said the changes in physical exercise really helped him improve his performance.

"I think our previous (physical) exercise was a bit below international standards. As an athlete, I felt I could not perform to my best ability. But, now I am improving my records day by day," said the men's 200m bronze medalist.

More importantly, he added, Ballard created a favorable atmosphere and initiated two-way communication between coaches and athletes, which helped make progress possible.

Separately, Ballard said Indonesia had a lot of young potential track and field athletes that could be groomed for success.

"They are out there. It's just a matter of how we find them (young athletes) and train them properly to turn them into world-class athletes," he told the Post.

"I believe in the future Indonesian athletes could become powerhouses not only in the Southeast Asia region, but also internationally," he said.

Indonesia enjoys clean sweep in badminton

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh and Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima

Coming in at full speed, Indonesia took advantage of the absence of Malaysia's top shuttlers at the SEA Games to make a record clean sweep of seven gold medals from the badminton court here on Friday.

Indonesia won the first two from the men's and women's teams on Tuesday.

Olympic gold medalist Taufik Hidayat outclassed world No. 24 Kendrick Lee Yen Hui of Singapore in the men's singles finals, 21-15, 21-9.

With Friday's victory, the world No. 7 made a 3-0 record win over the Singaporean. The last time he defeated Lee was in Denmark Super Series in October.

"I'm glad to win the gold," he said.

In the women's singles, Maria Kristin Yulianti beat Adriyanti Firdasari 21-16, 21-15 in an all-Indonesian final.

The women's doubles final also saw two national pairs competing against each other. Old hands Lilyana Natsir and Vita Marissa were too powerful for juniors Jo Novita and Greysia Polii, winning 21-15, 21-14.

In the mixed doubles, Indonesian No. 2 Flandy Limpele and Vita dashed the home crowd's hopes of seeing locals Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam take the gold, crushing the Thais 21-14, 21-15.

World champions Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan also thrashed Hendri Kurniawan Saputra and Hendra Wijaya of Singapore 21-17, 21-12 to win the seventh gold for Indonesia's badminton squad.

The gold party had been predicted by critics, who complained about the Badminton Association of Indonesia's (PBSI) decision to send its top shuttlers to the competition.

They called on Indonesia to follow Malaysia, which opted to rest its top shuttlers in a bid to improve their preparations for next year's Super Series tournaments, which will be the qualifying events for the Beijing Olympics.

PBSI head of training Lius Pongoh said that the association had no choice but to field the seniors to help the national squad meet its target of 65 gold medals to finish fourth in the standing.

"We have to fulfill the target. However, we realize that we have to take gutsy action to give our young shuttlers more international experience to help them shine in the future," he said.

PBSI chairman Sutiyoso, who witnessed the matches, hailed his players successes, saying it was the first time in history that Indonesia took all the gold medals at stake during the biannual event. Indonesia won four gold, five silver and one bronze from badminton in the 2005 SEA Games in the Philippines.

Calls that RI gold medals look unfair

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.

RI pencak silat team back in the sun at Games

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh and Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima

, National pesilat fulfilled their promise to once again dominate the country's traditional martial art during the 24th Southeast Asian Games here on Wednesday.

They won five gold, three silver and four bronze medals.

Coming to the biennial event with pesilat who were mostly young, Indonesia regained the crown it lost to Vietnam over the past few Games.

Old hand Rony Syaifullah, Diyan Kristianto, Pengky Simbar and Ni Nyoman Suparniti proved stronger than their rivals at the raucous final contest packed by local supporters, carrying trumpets and drums.

Rony, who is competing in his sixth Games here, overpowered hapless The Hoang Vu of Vietnam 5-0 in the men's Under-80 kilograms.

He said his Vietnamese opponent was younger and physically stronger and it was his experience and technical skills that won the fight.

With Wednesday's gold, he has so far bagged three gold, one silver and two bronze medals during a lifetime of Games participation.

The 31-year-old pesilat plans to retire from competition after the Games to coach.

"I did my best to contribute gold medals to Indonesia. I've been at the Games six times," he said.

Compatriot Diyan Kristianto also won the gold in the men's -50kg after defeating host pesilat Niphon Jantaro 3-2 before a frenzied crowd.

The 22-year-old said he didn't sleep well the night before awaiting the competition.

That didn't stop the 2005 Games silver medalist once he was in the arena and he wasn't bothered by the fanfare either.

"I was very focused on the fight. The only thing that mattered was how to bring back a gift for my parents," he said, adding that he immediately sent a text message to his father upon his victory.

Indonesia's third gold of the day came from Pengki who defeated world-and-defending champion Adnan Rina Jordana of Malaysia 4-1 at the women's -50kg final. Singapore's Amran Nur As'ashikeen and Vietnam's Anh Ngoc shared the bronze medal.

"We have learnt her style and I'm using her style to defeat her. It's a boomerang for her," said the 25-year-old and mother of one.

The winner at the 2006 Belgia Open and 2004 UK Open said she received tips from her father, Ventje Simbar, on how to defeat the Malaysian.

In the women's -65kg Suparniti won a gold after defeating Vietnamese Nguyen Thi Phuong Thuy 3-2.

In all, Indonesia won five gold medals -- including one on Tuesday -- out of a total of 14 available. Similarly, two years ago Indonesia's pesilat brought home five gold when a total 22 were on offer.

Indonesia's silver medals came from Andi Supiantoro in men's -55kg, Rosmayani in women's -55kg and Fitriani Puspa Endah in the women's +65kg, while the bronze medals were contributed by Indratno Suhud in -60kg, Pujo Janoko in men's -70kg and Mulyono in men's -75kg.

Rony: 'It's time to tie the knot'

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima

Evergreen Rony Syaifullah brought down the curtain on his career as a pesilat in style with a gold medal at his sixth SEA Games.

The 31-year-old fighter thumped The Hoang Vu of Vietnam in the final contest of the men's under-80 kilogram, winning an absolute 5-0.

Cheered on by a crowd of national team athletes including sprinter Suryo Agung Wibowo, who clinched a double victory in the men's 100 and 200 meter sprint, Rony delivered a solid performance in his specialty.

He added the gold to a personal collection that includes two golds from the 1997 Jakarta SEA Games and one from the 2005 Philippines Games, plus the double world champion title in 1997 and 2000.

"I've spent most of my life (devoted to) pencak silat. It's just too much," said Rony, who went on leave from his position as a sports science lecturer at the Sebelas Maret University in Surakarta, Central Java, to join the national training camp early this year.

"Now it's time for me to award myself. If I get the cash bonus, I'll keep it for my wedding party," he smiled.

"I plan to tie the knot next year. (The wedding) has been postponed several times because of my tight schedule in silat competition," he added.

Rony said he was not completely content with his feats at the SEA Games.

"Competing at higher multi-sport events, like the Asian Games or the Olympic Games, is every athlete's dream. I am no exception. But currently Pencak silat is still an exhibition game at the Asian Games and has yet to be recognized at the Olympics," he said.

Rony said his love of the sport was so big that he would not be able to fully retire from the country's traditional martial arts competition.

"I will focus on becoming a coach," said Rony, who is now also pursuing his master's degree in sports science at Jakarta State University.

"Hopefully, our young pesilats will be able to dominate the sport at a higher level of competition, like the Asian Games or the Olympics, in the future," he said.

Royal touch on the sports field

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand

Stories about princes and princesses have always attracted public attention, as has their participation at the Southeast Asian Games in Thailand.

In one of the oldest monarchies in the world, Thailand's Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana became a real superstar on the badminton court.

Paired with Nuttapon Nakthong, the doubles won over Laos' Khonesanith Inthavahn and Bouphakesone Lomany in the women's team quarterfinals. The princess was rested, however, when Thailand bowed down to Indonesia 3-2 last Sunday.

During the medal presentation most cameras focussed on her rather than the winning team.

The Oxford University graduate said she chose to compete not just to win, but to give her whole-hearted best to all Thai athletes, especially track and field and soccer teams.

The 20-year-old princess, known for her social activity, supported her compatriots at several different events.

Princes Sirivannavari is the youngest daughter of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. Her grandfather King Bhumibol Adulyadej is an avid sportsman who won a gold medal in sailing at the fourth Southeast Asian Peninsular Games (now the SEA Games) in 1967.

The other monarch in the Games is Brunei Darussalam Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah who competed in the 9-ball pool singles and doubles, and the 8-ball pool doubles.

Prince Billah and partner Sieu Loong Wong lost to Singapore's Chan Keng Kwang and Toh Lian Han in the first round of 9-ball doubles last Saturday. Over 30 Bruneian athletes and officials came to watch and cheer their prince on.

The 33-year-old prince, who also graduated from Oxford University, is a pool enthusiast and has participated in several international pool tournaments.

In 2006, he joined the world 9-ball pool championship in the Philippines, and competed in the same event this year, held Nov. 3-11.

The prince's achievements include reaching the semifinals of the 9-ball Brunei Invitational Cup by beating Taiwan's Chang Jung-ling.

Prince Billah arrived last Tuesday on a Boeing 767 with his wife Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah and entourage including more than 100 officials.

The group reportedly staying at the Dusit Princess Hotel.

While the prince is staying at the Dusit Princess Hotel, the Thai princess has opted to mingle with others at the Athletes' Village, at the Suranaree University of Technology.

"I'll try to remain normal and not to aim high, but I intend to do my best," Princess Sirivannavari said.

Young guns shine in track and field

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand

New Indonesian stars Suryo Agung Wibowo and Triyaningsih were triumphant again on the track Tuesday, winning a gold medal apiece and leading the national track and field squad to a total of seven gold medals from 45 on offer.

Twenty-four-year-old Suryo captured his second gold medal by clocking 20.76 seconds in the men's 200 meters. Host sprinter Sittichai Suwonprateep took the silver with a time of 20.84, followed by Indonesia's John Herman Muray at 21.01.

Suryo broke the national record of 20.93 set by Purnomo at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California. Last Friday, Suryo set a new SEA Games record in the men's 100m by clocking 10.25, 0.01 second faster than the old record.

"I have no other words but thank God for giving me the chance to win two gold medals," he said after his victory.

"This is the result of our hard work in the past few months. If only we had more than a year, I think the result could be even better," he added.

Suryo was also part of the men's 4x100 team relay that Monday finished second with a time of 39.79 but broke the national record of 41.55.

Meanwhile, Triyaningsih also scored a double victory by taking her second gold in the women's 10,000m. She crossed the finish line in 34:07.35 followed by Pa Pa of Myanmar at 34:39.98 and Filipino Merledita Manipol at 35:05.57.

"I was targeted to win a gold since the beginning and it's been quite a burden for me. Thank God I can meet the target," the 25-year-old said.

Physical trainer John Robert Ballard praised his athletes' performances.

"Right from the start I've always said they had the potential to be great athletes on a world standard, not just Southeast Asia, and we can still do it," he said.

"It's been a marvelous result for us. I think it is the best result since 1993," added the Australian, whose team finished sixth in the men's 4x100 meter at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

In other track and field events, women's pole vaulter Ni Putu Desy Margawati took the bronze after leaping over the bar at 3.80 meters. Defending champion and record holder Roslinda Samsu won the gold with a height of 4.00m, below her old record of 4.10m. Deborah Samson of the Philippines was second with 3.90m.

In the men's 400m, Achmad Sumarsono Sakeh could only finish fifth as the gold medal was taken by Filipino Julius Felicimo Nierras Jr, followed by Thailand's Jukkatip Pojaren and Malaysia's Muhamad Zaiful Zainal Abidin.

Despite Achmad's poor finish, Ballard still believes he can qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"Achmad didn't perform well in the men's 400m final due to his knee injury, but I still believe he can qualify in time for the four hundred," he said.

Winning Indonesia archers aim for more gold

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand

Indonesian archer I Gusti Nyoman Puruhito scored 115 points to best Earl Benjamin Yap of the Philippines in the men's individual compound final, giving Indonesia its first gold medal from the archery range in the SEA Games on Tuesday.

Gusti, popularly known as Adit, beat Myanmar Ye Min Swe in the semifinals before heading to the finals and defeating the Filipino by three points. Earlier this year, Gusti lost to Yap at the Asian Grand Prix in Bangkok.

In the other semifinal Ye defeated Vietnamese Nguyen Tin Cuong 116-111 to win the bronze.

"This is a big surprise for me because two years ago I only won the bronze. Moreover in the 70 meters qualification I only came in fourth," Gusti said after the match.

The 22-year-old said he was confident because the wind was not as bad as it was in the qualification round.

In the women's recurve individual category, Ika Yuliana and Rina Dewi Puspitasari set up an all-Indonesian final where Ika took the gold medal, 107-101.

The bronze went to Thailand's Chutinan Sakulchai who bested Ambarasi Subramaniam of Malaysia.

Two other Indonesian archers Dellie Threesyadinda, competing in the women's compound individual, and Rahmat Sulistya, competing in men's recurve individual, won the silver and bronze, respectively.

In the women's compound individual, Filipino Amaya Paz won the gold while Myanmar's Ngeain Aung took the bronze. In the men's recurve individual, the gold and silver went to Malaysians Cheng Chu Sian and Wan Abd Khalmizam.

Indonesia's team manager Denny Trisjanto was optimistic the archers could exceed the two-gold medal target as they still had a chance to win in the men's compound team and women's recurve team.

"We might have some surprises tomorrow," he said.

Dedeh waits 15 years to snatch Games gold

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima

It took Dedeh Erawati 15 years to finally win her first Southeast Asian Games gold medal, but she finally succeeded in the women's 100 meter hurdles here Monday.

The 28-year-old mother of one has competed in seven SEA Games but finally found success here after crossing the finish line first, in 13.51 seconds. She toppled defending champion Moh Siew Wei of Malaysia, with 13.61, and Wallapa Pansoongnenun of Thailand, with 13.85.

"I was just focusing on my run. Although I wasn't targeted to win the gold medal I told myself that I must do my best to win," the 2005 silver medalist said after the medal presentation ceremony.

"Previously I could only take bronze or silver medals but now I've got my gold," said Dedeh, who first ran in the Games in 1992, when she was 13.

During the Malaysian Track and Field Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Dedeh beat Moh by clocking 13.80.

"I'm so grateful to coach Ludmila Kondratieva, who has made lots of improvements during my training," said the state-owned bank employee.

The victory also earned her a Rp 200 million (about US$21,600) cash prize from the government. Dedeh plans to use the money "to go umroh (the minor haj pilgrimage) and buy a house."

In the women's hammer throw, Indonesia's Rose Herlinda Inggriana and Yurita Ariany Arsyad won the silver and bronze after throwing 50.79 and Yurita 49.99 meters, respectively. The gold went to Malaysian Siti Shahida Abdullah with 52.93m.

Host Thailand was triumphant in eight of 13 events featured on Monday, including the men's and women's 4x100m relay.

Quartet Wachara Sondee, Siriroj Darasuriyong, Sompote Suwannarangsri and Sittichai Suwonprateep won the men's 4x100m relay gold by clocking 38.95, leaving Indonesia's Taufik Rahmadi, Suryo Agung Wibowo, Asrul Akbar and John Herman Muray in the second place with 39.79 and Malaysia's Arif Naim Jeffry, Hadi Mohd Noor Imran, Mhd Latif Nyat and Mohd Zabidi Ghazali in third with 39.90.

"It was our best effort. We have to admit that the Thais are better than us," John said.

The silver still brought a cheer in the national camp as the quartet's time broke the national record of 41.55.

Indonesian physical trainer Robert John Ballard said the result was good and the team has a chance to do better.

"It was right they finished second and also the national record was fantastic. It's a good result but we can still do better. So I'm looking forward to next competition and looking forward to the next representation," Ballard told The Jakarta Post.

The Australian acknowledged that the team should improve their technique to beat the Thai.

Speaking about the host team, Ballard said: "That was a very good time, 38.95 is getting in to a very good class, but I'm pretty sure that Indonesia will be there next year. We will be running 38 point something for sure".

He was upbeat that the squad could add more gold.

"I think we certainly will get six gold. We will add one more from the women's 10,000m," he said.

"There will be a chance to pick up one more from the men's 200m. So it will be lovely to get seven and it's going to be the best result since 1995," said Ballard.

Sandow gives the gift of gold to dad

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima

Sandow Weldemar Nasution had the best birthday present for father-cum-coach Sori Enda Nasution: a SEA Games gold medal in the men's 77 kilogram division.

Complete with multiple piercing, tattoos and smoking between lifts, Sandow seized the gold after lifting a total 341kg.

He beat his main rival Kraisorn Dadtuyawat of Thailand amid a fanatic home crowd at the College Assembly Hall of Nakhon Ratchasima Vocational College.

"This my birthday present for my father. His birthday was on Dec. 1," said the world No. 16.

The 26-year-old lifted 148kg in the snatch and raised the SEA Games record in the clean and jerk from 190kg to 193kg. The old record was set by Indonesian Erwin Abdullah in the 2001 Games in Malaysia.

Dadtuyawat lifted 330kg -- 143kg in the snatch and 187kg in the clean and jerk -- while Vietnamese Thanh Truc Duong took the bronze by lifting 302 kilograms (132kg in snatch and 170kg in clean and jerk).

"We lifted the same weight of 187kg in the clean and jerk but his body weight is below me so if I didn't lift more I would have lost. We decided to add six more kilograms. I was confident of lifting 193kg because in training I have lifted 202kg," Sandow said after the medal presentation ceremony.

Sandow said he had no doubt of winning the competition as he had bested the Thai athlete in four prior meetings.

Speaking of his relationship with Sori, Sandow said he often argued with his father because Sori pushed him too hard in training.

"I am usually fighting with him, but I have to obey him because he has experience and maybe that's the best for me," said Sandow.

Sori could not feel happier and prouder of his only son.

"I bet all Indonesians in this room are proud of my son and as his father I couldn't be prouder," said the three time SEA Games champion and fourth place finisher in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California.

Despite the joyful moment, Sandow hinted this Games would be his last, considering his age.

"The next SEA Games will not feature weightlifting and I would have to wait until 2011, when I am already 30 years old. I might not participate anymore," he said.

Laos will host the 2009 Games.

In the women's division, Thailand's Khanittha Petanang won the 69kg event and Vietnam's Thi Thiet Nguyen won the 63kg event.

Yahuza streaks ahead in marathon

Monday, December 10, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima

Indonesia's Yahuza only had one thing on his mind as he was running the 42.1-kilometer distance during the Southeast Asian Games men's marathon event here on Sunday: a victory.

He crossed the line to finish first in two hours, 23 minutes and 46 seconds, far ahead of silver medalist Bunting Hem of Cambodia on 2:26:28 and Eduardo Buenavista of the Philippines on 2:27:21.

His time, however, was still below the Games record of 2:20:27 crafted by Indonesian Eduardus Nabunome at the 1997 Games in Jakarta.

"I was hoping to win the gold so my entire mind was focused on how to win," said the father of one. "We adopt a strategy to keep our pace and stick to two big groups. I was ordered to stick to the front group which was led by the Thai runners while Jauhari Johan stuck to the other group behind."

"I kept up my strength by always running behind the group but still attached to them. But by the 23rd km, I found myself running alone in the street," he added.

The newly married Yahuza dedicated his gold medal to his wife at home in Bangka, Bangka Belitung province.

His victory did not only earn him a gold medal but also Rp 200 million (about US$21,600) as a cash bonus from the government.

Asked what he would do with his bonus, Yahuza replied that he would donate some of it to three orphanages in his hometown.

Meanwhile in the women's marathon, Thailand's Sunisa Sailomyen triumphed after clocking 2:43:33 followed by Pa Pa of Myanmar on 2:44:11 and Jho Ann Banayag of the Philippines on 2:44:41.

The Games record holder, Ruwiyati, of Indonesia -- whose best time is 2:34:29, set 12 years ago in Chiang Mai, Thailand -- could only finish ninth while junior Feri Narince Subnafeu was a place ahead on 3:03:14.

In the men's 20km walk, Indonesia's Kristian Lumban Tobing won the silver on 1:32:57 followed by countryman Indra on 1:35:45. Malaysian Boon Lim Teoh took the gold on 1:30:37.

Indonesian athlete Darwati took the silver in the women's 20 km walk after clocking 1:43:51. Yu Fang Yuan of Malaysia -- who created the Games record of 1:39:25 at the 2003 Games in Hanoi -- took the gold on 1:41:47, while Myanmarese Saw Mar Lar New earned the bronze on 1:46:28.

Lifters seize two more golds at SEA Games

Monday, December 10, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima

National weight lifters dominated the weighlifting events at the 2007 SEA Games on Sunday, taking two out of the three gold medals at stake.

Newcomer Edi Kurniawan made a surprising lift of a total of 167 kilograms to snatch the gold in the men's 69kg, while Triyanto recorded a lift of 290 kilograms in the men's 62kg.

Edi, the 2007 national champion, only managed to lift 132kg in the snatch, while rival Sitthishak Suphalak of Thailand lifted 137kg at his second attempt. Edi tried to improve his lifting but failed on the second and third attempts.

In the clean and jerk, he lifted 160kg in his first attempt, while Suphalak lifted 162kg. Edi tried to force his luck on the second attempt with 167kg, but to no avail. But Suphalak also failed in his attempt.

In the last attempt, both lifters managed to lift the barbels but Edi was declared the winner because is lighter than the Thai -- 68.29kg compared to Suphalak's 68.63kg. Suphalak took the silver while Nguyen Hong Ngoc of Vietnam got the bronze.

Edi did a jubilant somersault on stage to cheer the Indonesian crowd at the College Assembly Hall of Nakhon Ratchasima Vocational College.

"He has the potential to be a world-class weight lifter. He just joined the national training camp for two months but he has great willpower," team manager Syafriadi Cut Ali said after the event.

"His rival (Sitthisak Suphalak) has been competing in international events for a few years," he added.

Earlier in the day, Triyanto lifted a total of 290kg, far ahead of runner-up Niwat Kriphet of Thailand (278kg) and bronze medalist Naharudin Mahayudin of Malaysia (265kg).

The 20-year-old Triyanto successfully lifted 130kg in his first attempt in the snatch but failed to increase it to 132kg. Kriphet could only lift 126kg, and failed to lift 130kg in his last attempt, while Mahayudin lifted 120kg.

In the clean and jerk, the Indonesian lifted 155kg on the first attempt while Kriphet and Mahayudin lifted 152kg and 135kg, respectively.

Both Triyanto and Kriphet failed in their second attempts to lift 160kg. But at the last chance, only the Indonesian could do so to ensure him the top place.

With two additional gold medals, Indonesia has so far collected three golds in weight lifting. Earlier on Saturday, Eko Yuli Irawan won the gold in the men's 56 kilograms.

Indonesia hopes to earn more gold medals from Sandow Weldemar Nasution in the men's 77kg and Sinta Darmariani in the women's 75kg events on Monday.

Syafriadi said Indonesia had now secured a quota of four weight lifters to compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a result of its recent international performances.

"God's willing, we will send our best lifters to the Olympics. The winners at the SEA Games will be our priorities for competing there," he said.

Indonesia wins two more golds in track and field

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima

Amid host Thailand's domination in track and field events, Indonesian heroines managed to steal two more gold medals at the Southeast Asian Games here on Saturday.

Trianingsih and Rini Budiarti finished first and second in the women's 5,000-meter run at His Majesty the King's 80th Birthday Anniversary Stadium, cheered on by the Thai crowd.

The 25-year-old Trianingsih clocked 15 minutes, 54.32 seconds, to sharpen the old record of 16:08.93 set by her senior, Supriati Sutono, in Kuala Lumpur in the 2001 Games.

Comrade Rini Budiarti followed second with 16:08.00, and Phyu War Thet of Myanmar came third with 16:27.10.

"I came here to bring home a gold medal. Two years ago, I refused to participate because I had a problem with the Indonesian Track and Field Association (PASI), but now I'm here and I hope I can contribute another gold in another class," Trianingsih said.

Earlier this year, PASI dismissed Trianingsih from its national training program following her refusal to train in Jakarta due to her studies in Salatiga, Central Java.

She was recalled to the camp in July after clocking her best time of 16:15 in the 5,000m, and 34:16 in the 10,000m at the National Championships.

Indonesian discus thrower Dwi Ratnawati also won gold by throwing 50.05 meters to upset Thai Juthaporn Krasaeyan, who came in second after throwing 49.46m, and Singaporean Guirong Zhang who threw 45.73m.

"I'm very happy because I have competed at the Games four times and this is the first time I've won a gold medal," she said before the medal presentation.

Dwi said her physical training program over the last eight months had helped her make improvements.

"I can't wait to get back into training. I hope I can do even better in the Asian Games," she said.

Track and field team manager Sumartoyo Martodihardjo said he was satisfied with the result, and was hopeful the track and field squad would contribute three more medals in the women's 10,000 meters and the men's and women's marathon.

"I'm happy with the result and can see the athletes have been training better," he said.

In the men's 4x400m relay, Indonesia's Yan Karubaba, Silas Patay, Nurrochman and Achmad Sumarsono Sakeh came in fourth after clocking 3:11.15.

Malaysia grabbed the gold medal with 3:07.95, trailed by Thailand with 3:08.25 and the Philippines with 3:08.53.

For nearly two decades, after first joining the SEA Games in 1977, track and field became a gold mine for Indonesian athletes. Since 1995, however, the country has not won more than five gold medals at the event.

Two years ago Indonesia returned with one gold, six silver and five bronze from the track -- far less than their targetted six gold, seven silver and eight bronze.

Weight lifter Eko gives RI another boost

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima

Eko Yuli Irawan delivered one gold medal for Indonesia in the weightlifting competition at the 2007 Southeast (SEA) Games, as well as breaking the Games record here Saturday.

The 18-year-old lifted a total of 284 kilograms in the men's Under-56 kilogram event to claim the gold, followed by his close rival Anh Tuan Hong of Vietnam with 281kg and host lifter Pongsak Maneetong with 256kg.

Eko lifted 126kg in the snatch and then 158kg in the clean and jerk to break the Games record of 150kg created by compatriot Jadi Setiadi in the 2003 Games in Hanoi, while Anh Tuang Hong lifted 128 in the snatch and 153 in the clean and jerk.

"We know Eko is good at the clean and jerk while Anh Tuan Hong is very good at the snatch. Therefore, we had expected Eko to lift more in the clean and jerk, and he successfully met our expectations for the gold," weightlifting coach Joni Firdaus told reporters after the competition.

The victory gain Eko a Rp 200 million (about US$21,600) cash bonus from the government.

"I dedicate this medal to my mother and father, and I will build a house for them and help set them up in a small business," said Eko, who started weightlifting training six years ago.

"My dream is to compete in the Olympic Games," he added.

Indonesia has notched up enough points for four weightlifters to compete in the Olympics, but the decision on who will actually do so rests with the team manager.

Eko said that if he was selected for the Olympic, he would aim to lift 130kg in the snatch and 160kg in the clean and jerk.

Indonesian Weightlifting, Powerlifting and Bodybuilding Association (PABBSI) chairman Adang Darajatun praised Eko's triumph, saying he had been performing consistently in recent international events.

"Now we are on the right track to win four golds, and we hope we will be able to meet our target in the remaining four days," Adang said, adding that Eko's victory could boost his compatriots' zeal.

Separately, Indonesia's Okta Dwi Pramita earned a silver in the women's 53kg division after lifting a total of 187kg.

The gold went to host lifter Suda Chaleephay, who lifted a total of 202kg, while Vietnam's Thi Bich Ha Nguyen took the bronze with 185kg.

Indonesia won two gold medals in the Philippines two years ago and is hoping to earn more in this year's event.

RI athletes add more gold to the pot

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Damar Harsanto and Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand

Indonesia's athletes gave it their all Saturday claiming six gold medals, four silvers and one bronze at the 24th Southeast Asian Games.

Track and field contributed two golds and one silver through Triyaningsih and Rini Budiarti who finished one-two in the women's 5000 meters and Dwi Ratnawati in the women's discuss throw.

Eighteen-year-old weight lifter Eko Yuli Irawan lived up his top billing as the 2006 Junior World Championship champ to clinch gold in the men's 56 kilogram division. Fellow weight lifter Okta Dwi Pramita finished second to win the silver in the women's 53kg division.

Meanwhile, two unexpected golds were won in wrestling and bowling. Little-known wrestler Fachriansyah snatched the gold in the men's freestyle 74kg division, while 17-year-old bowler Tannya Roumimper grabbed gold in the women's singles event.

Good news also came from the water with four-strong rowing team -- Samlia, Femy Batuwael, Femmy Yuwartini Elia and Ratna -- fighting back from third place in the last heat and stealing the gold medal in the women's lightweight four event. Indonesia also collected two silver medals from men's pair Iswandi and Agus Budi Aji and in the women's lightweight double sculls thanks to Sri Rahayu Masi and Bertin.

Later in the day, fencer Isnawaty Sir Idar won the bronze in the women's individual ep‚e, while swimmer Muhammad Akbar Nasution finished third in the men's 200m individual medley.

However, Indonesia missed some chances in the events it dominated in the 2005 Philippines Games, including the men's singles bowling event. Defending champion and 2006 Asian Games winner Ryan Leonard Lalisang unexpectedly slumped to 25th position.

With Saturday's result, Indonesia has so far collected seven gold medals, nine silvers and 11 bronze and moved from seventh to sixth in the medal standing.

Host Thailand -- targeting 150 gold medals as a birthday present to King Bhumibol Adulyadej -- remains the leader followed by Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia.

Indonesia will have the chance to add more gold medals to its bag after setting a final clash against the host in the men's and women's tennis team finals.

Indonesia whitewashed the Philippines 3-0 thanks to old hand Romana Tejakusuma and Sandy Gumulya who played the singles events and 2005 double SEA Games gold medalist Wynne Prakusya partnered with Angelique Widjaja in the doubles. Thailand thrashed Malaysia 3-0.

In water polo, Indonesia extended its winning streak by beating Malaysia 15-7. The Philippines will be the next opponent in the round-robin preliminary match Sunday.

Other gold-medal hopefuls on the badminton court will kick off their campaign Sunday in the men's and women's team quarterfinals. Indonesia hopes to win four golds from its top shuttlers.

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.

RI glitters in track with shining Suryo

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Damar Harsanto and Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand

Just like his name, Suryo Agung Wibowo, 24, brought a light to the Indonesian camp with his gold medal in the men's 100 meter sprint at the SEA Games on Friday.

Suryo -- whose name means sun -- crossed the finish line in 10.25 seconds to become the fastest man in the region and a new Games record holder. The old record was set by Reanchai Seeharwong of Thailand in 1999.

The victory was an improvement from Suryo's previous performances at the Games. In 2003 he went home empty-handed, and two years ago he took the bronze.

Once Suryo crossed the finish line, the Indonesian contingent turned joyous, shaking each others' hands in celebration.

The good news -- ending a desperate week-long wait for a gold -- came shortly after Indonesia took silver in the equestrian dressage team event and, from Zulkarnaen Purba, the men's 400m hurdles.

Rini Budiarti added a silver in the women's 1500m, while Irene Truitje Joseph, the 1999 Games gold medalist, took the bronze in the women's 100m.

Coming into the second day after the Games' official opening, Indonesia had flopped in shooting, table tennis and mountain biking.

Cyclists in the mountain biking cross-country event failed to win medals. The only medal in the sport was a silver from Popo Ario Sejati in the men's downhill race.

In wushu, Indonesia's Asian Games silver medalist Susyana Tjan lost grip on her spear and failed to score well. Her junior, Lindswell, who finished fourth in the World Championships in China last month, also scored low.

Swimmer Felicia Leksono finished second slowest in the women's 100m freestyle.

Muhammad Akbar Nasution was edged out by Miguel Molina of the Philippines in the 400m individual medley by only 0.06 seconds and had to be satisfied with a silver.

Lothus Malino took the bronze in men's wrestling freestyle at 84 kilograms.

The day's good news was dampened by the failure of the Indonesia soccer team to reach the semifinals after bowing out 2-1 to host Thailand in Group A of the round-robin match. Indonesia defeated Cambodia 3-1 but was held to a 0-0 draw by Myanmar.

A consolation for Indonesia came from the water polo team, which sailed over Vietnam 19-11 in their opener.

On Saturday, Indonesia hopes to add more gold medals with Dwi Ratna competing in the women's discus throw and Yurita Arianny Arsyad in the women's hammer throw.

Indonesia's king and queen of bowling, Ryan Leonard Lalisang and Putty Insavilla Armein, will compete in the men's singles and women's singles. They hope to repeat their victories in the 2005 Philippines Games and 2006 Asian Games in Doha.

RI gets first silver while Thailand leads

Friday, December 07, 2007

Damar Harsanto and Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima

The Southeast Asian Games cauldron was lit Thursday at the official opening of the biennial event, but the red-and-white squad paraded goldless at His Majesty the King of Thailand's 80th Birthday Anniversary stadium.

Once a dominating country in the regional event, Indonesia is losing its grip in medal collection and has allowed other countries -- especially arch-rival Thailand -- to move up in their standing.

With the shooting now complete and other events have begun, Indonesia remains seventh on the tally with one silver and five bronze medals.

The medals were not enough to raise Indonesia's position above seventh place -- just above minnow countries Laos, Timor Leste, Cambodia and Brunei Darussalam.

The host Thailand, targeting 150 gold as a birthday present for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, tops the standing with 21 gold, followed by Singapore with 10 and Vietnam with seven gold medals.

Indonesia earned its first silver thanks to cycling Popo Ario Sejati, who pedaled in the men's mountain bike downhill race. He came second after eventual winner Joey Barba of the Philippines.

Later in the day, Indonesia's six-strong team playing in Sepaktakraw hoop event at The Mall's hall scored a total 650 points to win bronze.

First and second place went to host Thailand and Myanmar.

The newly introduced event, known also hoop takraw, is a variation of sepaktakraw where players have to show their creativity and dexterity in making maneuvers, like cross-legged jump kicks and other artistic kicks, before scoring a goal in a basket-shaped net erected 4.5 meters above the ground.

The new event sparked a controversy Thursday when Malaysia pulled out of the competition because it was upset at the use of a rubber coated ball rather than the traditional rattan.

"Malaysia's withdrawal was deeply regrettable," president of the Asian Sepaktakraw Federation, Abdel Halim Bin Kader, said as quoted by AP.

"I feel very sad indeed because the spirit of the games, which is friendship and unity, is most important among the sport community."

Bin Kader said Malaysia had been given 220 of the new balls for practice and had used the new balls in competition at the First ASEAN Sepak Takraw Championship in June.

SEA Games officials will decide if Malaysia should be penalized for its withdrawal.

Friday will feature 27 gold medals at stake in track and field, swimming, billiards, cycling, equestrian, gymnastics, wrestling, wushu and petanque events.

SEA Games open with fabulous celebration at $65m stadium

Friday, December 07, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand

The Southeast Asian Games were officially opened with what attendees described as a fabulous ceremony staged at the newly built US$65 million His Majesty the King's 80th Birthday Anniversary Stadium in Thailand on Thursday.

With many competitions already underway, the host nation is leading the medal count and aims take out the medal count.

Some 20,000 spectators along with about 7,000 athletes, coaches and officials enjoyed the opening ceremony, which was attended by Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn.

The Prince was representing King Bhumibol Adulyadej who has just celebrated his 80th birthday.

A two-hour performance called "The journey of the SEA Games to Korat" was colored with fireworks.

Indonesia's cyclist Sugiyanto Setiawan, who won the gold medal in the 2005 SEA Games, carried the Indonesian flag to lead the 542-strong contingent during the parade.

But all eyes were on the 982-strong Thailand squad led by badminton athlete and Games competitor Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana.

Spectators gave a standing ovation when their local heroes entered the stadium.

All attendants were asked to wear a shade of pink to celebrate the King's good health after he was hospitalized in August.

Well-known Thai athlete Udomporn Polsak -- the 2004 Olympic gold winner in weightlifting -- carried the Games torch to the cauldron.

As a sign of the organizers' commitment to an environmentally friendly Games, they displayed a huge banner with "Save the World" during the ceremony.

A total of 11 countries are fighting to win the majority of the 475 gold medals on offer, via 45 sports and over 10 days.

Thailand is targeted to win 150 gold medals to reclaim its top spot, which it failed to win in the previous three Games.

Malaysia took the crown in 2001, followed by host Vietnam in 2003 and the Philippines two years ago.

Indonesia has been involved in the games since 1977 and although it once dominated the competition, it has set a modest target of 65 gold medals in a bid to climb from fifth to fourth place.

Security measures have been tightened following the bombing in the province of Narathiwat on Tuesday.

A reported 7,500 uniformed and plain clothes security officers were deployed to secure athletes and officials during the ceremony and during the competition.

Silver or bronze? Games medal dispute

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima

Indonesian gymnasts' medal result is in question following a dispute over their silver win at the SEA Games here on Wednesday.

Lody Lontoh and Tyana Dewi Koesumawati won the silver medal -- a slip away from the gold targeted -- in the mixed doubles aerobic gymnastics event, following a crown shared by Vu Bang Dong and Tran Thi Thu Ha of Vietnam and Nattawut Pimpa and Roypim Ngampeerapong of Thailand who both scored 20.20 points.

Shortly after the medal ceremony, organizers approached the national squad and asked them to return their silver medals, but the Indonesian camp refused.

"If two teams share first place to win gold, then the next team should receive the silver medal," coach Fachmy Fahrezy said after the ceremony.

"We won't humiliate ourselves by returning the silver medal as it was presented through a formal and honored ceremony. If they say we broke the rules, we can say the whole event broke the rules since it was only competed in by three countries," he said.

The national camp sent a letter of protest, requesting clarification of the decision, to the Organizing Committee, after learning of a report to the committee stating Indonesia earned only the bronze medal.

Lody and Tyana earned 8.50 points in artistry, 8.30 in execution and 2.650 in difficulty. The Vietnamese couple scored 8.40 in artistry, 8.30 in execution and 3.500 in difficulty while the Thai's earned 8.50 in artistry, 8.40 in execution, and 3.300 in difficulty.

"Lody and Tyana performed perfectly and have done the best they could. Unfortunately they earned a lower score in the level of difficulty than the Vietnamese and Thai gymnasts," Fachmy said.

The Indonesian trio: Lody Lontoh, Ardi Dedek Saputra and Faizal Amirullah also won bronze in the aerobic trios.

Thailand's trio Phairach Thotkhamchai, Chanchaluk Yaimmitr and Kittipong Tawinun won the gold medal with a final score of 20.60, Vietnameses trios Vu Ba Dong, Xuan Giang Nguyen and Thien Phuong Nguyen scoring 20.15 and Indonesia 19.80.

In the women's individual category, Indonesia's Tyana Dewi Koesumawati came in fourth, while in the men's individual, compatriot Claudio Marsello finished fifth.

RI eyes four golds in SEA Games karate

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.

RI insists on sending U-23 soccer team to SEA Games

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia says it will send a (men's) soccer team to the 24th Southeast (SEA) Games in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, despite Sunday's humbling 7-0 loss to Syria in their 2010 World Cup pre-qualifying match in Damascus.

"Don't judge them by that result. Look at their progress over the last three months," an executive with the national task force overseeing soccer, Wianto Soehardjo, told reporters Monday.

Wianto said the national under 23-year-old team, which will represent Indonesia next month at the SEA Games, showed their fighting spirit up until the final whistle.

"Despite the defeat, national coach Ivan Venkov Kolev made a brave decision with a shake-up in the middle of the match to try some new tactics," Wianto said.

With the defeat, Indonesia's hopes of making it to the next round of World Cup qualifying matches were dashed. It lost to Syria 4-1 earlier last week in Jakarta.

Despite the outcome, the national task force for the SEA Games still expects the squad to reach the finals next month at the biannual sporting event in Thailand.

Another official from the national task force in charge of soccer, Setia Dharma Madjid, said they would not drop the team from the Indonesian contingent for the SEA Games.

"The Damascus match was only a warm-up for the team ahead of the Games ... The team already met targets set by the task force," Setia said.

He refused to compare the soccer team to the women's national basketball team, who were taken off the Indonesian SEA games contingent following a poor performance at the Southeast Asia Basketball Association (SEABA) championship in Thailand last month. During the championship Indonesia finished fourth after Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia, not reaching the finals as required by the task force.

At the Nakhon Ratchasima SEA Games, the U-23 soccer team led by skipper Eka Ramdani will play in group A, together with host Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia. Indonesia will take on Cambodia on Dec. 2, Myanmar on Dec. 4 and Thailand on Dec. 7. The group leader and runner-up will advance to the semifinals.

"Our toughest rival in the group is Thailand, so if we can beat Vietnam and Myanmar we will reach the semifinal and then the final. This is the target set by the PSSI," Wianto said.

To gear up for the event, PSSI sent the U-23 team for a one-month overseas stint in Argentina which cost around Rp 2 billion.

Indonesia last won gold in soccer at the 16th SEA Games in Manila in 1991. At the most recent 2005 SEA Games, also in Manila, the team finished third.

Court told to drop Sports Law article

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A lawmaker and a governor have asked the Constitutional Court to review and annul an article of the Sports Law deemed contradictory to the spirit of the 1945 Constitution.

Head of Commission E on Welfare affairs at the East Java Legislative Council Saleh Ismail Mukadar and South Sumatra Governor Syahrial Oesman on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the 2005 Law on the National Sports System.

They argued article 40 of the law contradicted Constitutional article 27 and 28. The law's article stipulates that public officials are prohibited from holding management seats on provincial or municipality sports councils.

Saleh, who is also chairman of the Surabaya Sports Council, and Syahrial, chairman of the South Sumatra Sports Council, argued the article had denied them the right to contribute to sports development in the country.

"The article has nullified the right of public officials to support sports development in the country. If a governor, mayor or regent serves their local sports council, the council will receive valuable support in terms of funding," Syahrial's lawyer, Umbu Samapaty, told the court.

The plaintiffs also questioned why the restriction only applied to double positions in local sports councils but not to sports organizations.

"We totally agree that the government should not interfere with sports development and should let the professionals do their jobs. But why does such a prohibition only apply to the sports council and not to individual sports disciplines?" Umbu said.

Saleh's lawyer, Muhammad Soleh, said the article had violated the rights of public officials in East Java, who had been denied the right to take part in helping develop the country's sports.

In response to the accusations, State Minister for Youth and Sports Affairs Adhyaksa Dault, who represented the government in court, argued public officials with dual functions on sports councils would not "focus" on sports development and would create "a conflict of interests".

"If they want to contribute to sports, they can do it through various means. They could help manage sports organizations or provide funding for sports.

"Those who challenge the regulation are those who have enjoyed the comfort zone with their current positions and who are trying to pursue more comfort in other positions," Adhyaksa said.

The minister was accompanied by around 20 staff members, who defended the government position in the case, prompting the comment from the president of the constitutional court, Jimly Asshiddiqie: "Moving the office to the court".

Lawyer for the House of Representatives, Akil Muchtar, supported the government's argument, saying double positions would create opportunities for public officers to abuse their power, as occurred during the New Order regime.

"It will be confusing if a governor, mayor or regent who determines the local (provincial/municipality) budget also receives some of the same budget," Akil told the court.

After more than two hours, the hearing -- presided over by justices Jimly Asshiddiqie, I Dewa Gede Palguna, HAS Natabaya, Laica Marzuki, Achmad Roestandi, Mukthie Fadjar, Maruarar Siahaan, Harjono and Soedarsono -- was adjourned indefinitely and will resume with testimonies from experts and witnesses.

The plaintiffs said they would call on experts to testify, including member of the national human rights commission Hesti Armi Wulan.