Wed, 31 Mar 1999

Indonesia grooms 534 athletes for SEAG

JAKARTA (JP): A national training program is underway for 534 athletes from 20 sports who will represent the country in the 20th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, in August.

National Sports Council (KONI) outgoing chief in charge of athletes development Mohamad Hindarto, said on Tuesday that 95 coaches have joined the program.

Training sessions conducted by each sport association were scheduled to take place between February and May.

Each association will evaluate athletes based on their physical endurance and skills during the four month training period, before naming the best qualified candidates for the biennial event.

"Not all of them will be dispatched to the SEA Games. We will only select athletes who have the best chance to win medals. We will provide an exception for younger athletes, who are preparing for the 2006 Asian Games," he said.

Indonesia aims to improve its ranking from 11th in the 1998 Asiad to sixth in eight years, by staging a long-term training program -- the Golden Garuda project. The country aims to host the quadrennial event in the same year.

The Games, to be held by Brunei Darussalam for the first time from Aug. 7 to Aug. 12 will offer 235 gold medals in 21 sports.

Indonesia will compete in 20 sports: badminton, basketball, billiards and snooker, bowling, boxing, cycling, soccer, golf, hockey, karate, Pencak silat martial art, sepak takraw, shooting, squash, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, track and field and traditional boat racing. It will not compete in bowls.

Two years ago, 884 national athletes brought host Indonesia back to the top with a record haul of 194 golds, 101 silvers and 115 bronzes, or 44 percent of the total number of gold medals on offer. Indonesia lost to arch rival Thailand in the 1995 SEA Games in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Hindarto said State Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Agung Laksono, had vowed to financially assist the Indonesian team by providing Rp 15 billion (US$1.7 million). The money will be used to finance the training and tryouts program abroad.

"We will pursue new breakthroughs so we can use the money effectively," he said.

He said some sport organizations might not have the chance to send their athletes abroad for tryouts due to limited budget support from the government.

"I call on sports communities to voluntarily donate their money to help us finance our athletes."

He said a team would be set up by new KONI officials to supervise the budget use.

KONI chairman Wismoyo Arismunandar, elected for the second time, is scheduled to announce names of KONI officials on Wednesday. Reports said he would still deploy old officials as his assistants. (ivy)