Thu, 29 May 2003

Ikasi chooses 40 athletes for SEA Games tryout

Musthofid, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Indonesian Fencing Association (Ikasi) has selected 40 athletes to undergo a tryout ahead of the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

The athletes were chosen from 60 contenders at Wednesday's qualifying session, at the Bung Karno sports complex in Central Jakarta.

The group is made up of 24 men: eight each competing in saber, epee and foil, and 16 women: eight in saber, four each in epee and foil.

Eman Sumusi, an Ikasi head of development, said the decision was based not only on the athletes' rankings at the qualifying selection but also on their physical exams.

"The physical test accounted for 25 percent of the selection criteria," Eman said.

Ikasi is scheduled to hold the second round of selections in July, when it expects to pick a 20-strong line-up for the SEA Games in Vietnam this December.

In a bid to maintain Indonesia's fencing domination in the region, Ikasi has hired epee trainer Lie Qiucheng of China. Two other Chinese trainers will coach the saber and foil athletes.

"We hope the other two will arrive in June," Mulyono A.R., the training project officer, said.

Lie's returns after working with Indonesian fencers twice before. He coached Indonesian teams at the 1997 and 2001 SEA Games.

At the 2001 games, the Indonesian fencing squad won the most medals with two golds and a silver. Thailand was second with two golds.

Ikasi's new policy of limiting the age of the squad members with a view to preparing young athletes for long-term goal has already effected the selection.

"The chosen participants are all under 30," Mulyono said.

The policy appeared to deny 33-year-old Ferdian Triagi and 40- year-old Christine Timisela, the two 2001 gold medalists, another chance of winning at the SEA Games.

Inggrid Ratu is looking forwards to the challenge which could lead her to her first ever SEA Games.

"It is going to be tough competition. But I'm optimistic I can make the best of it," said the 24-year-old foil specialist. Her competition for two places on the team includes her sister and national team player Paulani Ratu.