Wed, 25 Sep 2002

Athletes told to keep to diet at Asian Games

Novan Iman Santosa, The Jakarta Post, Busan, South Korea

Indonesian athletes taking part in the Busan 2002 Asian Games, especially those who must compete in a certain weight class, will have to watch their diets, with the Busan Asian Games Organizing Committee (BAGOC) putting on an impressive spread at the athletes' village.

"There is plenty of food here, but that's exactly the problem. Our athletes, such as the martial artists and weightlifters, may gain weight and move outside their weight classes," Indonesian deputy chef-de-mission Imron Z.S. said outside the athletes' village in Haeundae on Tuesday.

"Most of the athletes have taken their own precautions, but we still ask the coaches to keep their eyes on their athletes' weight.

"On the other hand, athletes who do not have a weight class are very happy with the meals provided. Our cyclists, rowers and canoeists often eat more (than other athletes)," he said.

However, Indonesian cyclists who have been here since Sept. 17 complained about the food, saying it tasted different than in Indonesia.

"There is a lot of food here but the taste just doesn't fit my tongue," said cyclist Samai.

Wushu athlete Susyana, however, found the menu just right.

The cyclists also complained about the facilities at the athletes' village.

"The room is luxurious but with no facilities at all. There isn't a telephone or a television. We have to go to the ground floor to wash our clothes," said cyclist Wawan Setyobudi.

Commenting on the athletes' complaints, Imron said all of the contingents at the Games received the same facilities, emphasizing that the athletes had to accept and adjust to conditions.

It is early autumn in Busan, and the weather is getting cooler each day. The chilly temperature is another difficulty for the Indonesian athletes, more accustomed to tropical weather.

Indonesian cyclists said the cool Busan weather had prompted them to wear sweaters and gloves during their training sessions.

"And the air is thin here, making it more difficult to breathe and preventing us from getting the most out of our training sessions," said Samai.

The Indonesian cyclists had just returned from a practice sessions at the velodrome in the Gyeumjeong Sports Complex, some 23 kilometers from the athletes' village.

Meanwhile, veteran Indonesian windsurfer I Gusti Made Oka Sulaksana said he was still studying the wind and wave patterns at Haeundae beach.

Oka, who has been here since Sept. 8 with another windsurfer, Fadly Faisal, said the waves at Haeundae were different because they came in sideways.

"Usually waves come from behind, pushing the surfboard. The problem is compounded by the wind, which sometimes disappears. Perhaps these problems are because of Busan's hilly geography.

"But I am still trying to master both the wave and wind currents, get to know the venue better," he said.

Oka won gold at the Bangkok 1998 Asian Games and is determined to defend his title, despite the wave and the wind problems.

Security around the athletes' village is very tight, with only authorized personnel and vehicles allowed to enter the compound.