Sun, 27 Feb 2000

C. Java gears up for 15th PON

SEMARANG (JP): After losing the chance to host the 2004 National Games (PON), Central Java will focus on improving its achievement in this year's National Games in Surabaya, held from June 19 to June 30.

Chairman of the National Sports Council (KONI) Central Java chapter Djoko Sudantoko said his province would make every effort to improve its medal tally at the Games.

Central Java finished fourth in the 1996 PON in Jakarta, bringing home 32 golds, 42 silvers and 71 bronzes. Host Jakarta topped the medal tally with an incomparable number of medals: 141 golds, 84 silver and 79 bronzes.

"Central Java is gearing up to haul as many gold medals as possible. At the very least we aim to improve on our position from fourth in 1996," he said on Saturday.

Capital of South Sumatra Palembang beat the Central Java capital of Semarang by winning 33 of 61 votes in the election during the council's plenary meeting on Feb. 15 and Feb. 16. Semarang only earned 23 votes.

President Abdurrahman Wahid later chose Palembang to host the quadrennial event, making it the first city outside of Java to stage the Games in the past 30 years.

Djoko said the sports officials accepted the President's decision. "We accept the decision although it represents a failure for us. The President's decision must be the best one."

Separately, deputy head of the city council, M. Thoyfoer, shared Djoko's view. He expressed hope that the failure to host PON would not discourage local athletes from doing their best at the event.

"I hope this failure will not break the athletes' spirit to give their best in the 15th PON," he told The Jakarta Post.

He called on sports officials to maintain their athletes' fighting spirit so they could fulfill the province's target in the multisports event. (har)