Thu, 27 May 2004

Jakarta vies for PON title

Eva C. Komandjaja, Jakarta

The Jakarta Sports Council has set itself the target of regaining the overall championship winner's title at the 16th National Games (PON) in Palembang, South Sumatra, this September.

Jakarta had been the overall champion since the seventh PON in 1969 until the last edition in Surabaya in 2000 when it was pushed into second place by the host in the final standings.

The contingent from the capital city collected 116 gold medals, 16 less than the champion's.

The upcoming PON, which will be the first ever held outside of Java, will run from Sept. 2 to Sept. 14.

Jakarta Sports Council chairman Fauzi Bowo said that Jakarta would have to take more than 50 percent of the medals on offer to be crowned as champions in the quadrennial multievent sporting showcase.

"We expect that we can take gold medals in paragliding, pencak silat, athletics, shooting and wushu because we have good athletes in these sports ... hopefully, our gold medal targets will not prove excessive," he said on Wednesday.

Fauzi said the council had been grooming 800 athletes for the games. This number would be whittled down to 600.

"We will begin sorting out the athletes in June to determine the best," Fauzi said.

He said that the council was keeping an eye on potential rivals as they might ruin Jakarta's hopes in the medal stakes.

"We are not only monitoring East Java and West Java but other provinces so that we can be sure of reaching our target this time," he said. East Java and West Java have been traditionally tough opponents for Jakarta in the National Games.