Fri, 22 Sep 2000

A dream comes true for Candra, Tony after winning Sydney golds

SYDNEY (JP): When the dream comes true, sometimes it is difficult to believe.

For world men's doubles number one pair Tony Gunawan and Candra Wijaya, winning the elusive Olympic gold medal was their most coveted title until they snatched it on Thursday.

"I can't believe it. This is our dream which comes true," an elated Candra said.

Candra and Tony defeated second seeds Lee Dong-soo and Yoo Yong-sung of South Korea 15-10, 9-15, 15-7 in 77 minutes.

When they made their victory lap draped in the red-and-white flag, it was not only the Indonesian spectators but also the rest of the crowd, including Australians, who gave a standing ovation.

Their victory did not only bring joy to those present but also to 220 million Indonesians back home who had been hoping that Indonesia's domination in the men's doubles would be continued.

They emulated their seniors Ricky Subagja and Rexy Mainaky who won the gold in Atlanta four years ago.

Given their hard preparation, both Candra and Tony deserved the victory. When all shuttlers finished their training sessions at 10 a.m., both shuttlers continued to practice for another one or two hours.

"If we can't win the gold it means we failed at the Olympics. Silver doesn't count," Tony said prior to his departure to Sydney.

Candra and Tony officially started their partnership in September 1998 after Candra's partner Sigit Budiarto was banned for a year due to his use of the anabolic steroid nandrolone.

The new partnership started off well, with the 1999 All England victory topping their list of titles.

Candra, who celebrated his 25th birthday on Sept. 16 here, is known as a very serious person. His hobby of reading and studying politics is in contrast to Tony, who was born in Surabaya on April 9, 1975 and really loves Play Station.

Candra's seriousness has been a source of concern to many people, including journalists, that he might not be able to cope with the pressure from the National Sports Council (KONI) and the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) to win the gold.

Candra could not forgive himself when he and Sigit almost blew Indonesia's chance of winning the Thomas Cup for the 12th time in Kuala Lumpur in May, as they lost to Danish pair Jens Erikssen and Jesper Larsen in the semifinals.

Head coach Christian Hadinata intervened to help Candra recover. "Candra is a very serious person. I had to speak to him personally. But I'm sure that when he wants something, he will work really hard to reach it," Christian said.

While Tony, who used to serve as Sigit's bridesmaid, proved that he was the right choice to accompany Candra as one half of the world's best pair.

Coach Herry Imam Pierngadi has never had problems in handling the two.

"They know their commitment to the sport. They always feel that the training is never enough and it's good for them," Herry said. (yan)