Mon, 17 Sep 2001

KONI rejects blame for SEAG showing

KUALA LUMPUR (JP): The entire nation should take the blame for the dismal performance displayed by Indonesian athletes at the 21st Southeast Asian Games here, a sports official said.

The national team's chef de mission Putera Astaman told a media conference on the eve of the Games' finale that Indonesia had failed to take any action since the Chiang Mai SEA Games in 1995, when Thailand displayed its might in the track and field, and swimming competitions.

"The state has failed to pay attention to sport thus far. It should have built more sports facilities across the archipelago to help us recruit more potential athletes," he said.

"It is such an irony that while Thailand dared to staged the 1995 SEA Games outside the capital in Chiang Mai, we didn't have the guts to organize the National Games (PON) outside of Jakarta, in Surabaya, until 2000."

Putera, who is an official of the National Sports Council, hailed the Indonesian athletes despite their failure to reach the set target.

"We had a chance to finish second until Thailand started to reign supreme in track and field, and swimming, while Malaysia displayed outstanding improvement to dominate gymnastics," he said.

KONI had expected 100 gold medals to be taken by Indonesia.

It will be the second time in a row that Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country, has finished third in the regional event. In the last games in Brunei two years ago, Thailand collected the most laurels, followed by Malaysia.

The official in charge of evaluating the national team's performance, Imam Sujudi, underlined the need for KONI to focus on track and field, swimming and shooting in the future.

There were 125 golds on offer in the three sports in this year's Games.

"Winning only eight gold medals out of 125 in the three events is undoubtedly a total failure," Imam said.

Indonesian won two golds in swimming through veteran Richard Sam Bera, three golds in shooting from Sarmunah, Sylvia Silimang and Supadmi, and three golds in track and field from Supriati Sutono and Ni Putu Desy Margawaty.

Another KONI official speaking at the conference, Harsuki, said Indonesia missed chances to win 26 golds during the Games.

"Indonesia only relied on six sports which offered more or less 10 golds," he said, referring the sports such as pencak silat, cycling, weightlifting, rowing, badminton and tennis.

He warned that Vietnam and the Philippines could emerge as other sports powerhouses in the region thanks to their improvements in track and field, shooting, cycling, wushu, karate and tae kwon do.

Vietnam will host the next SEA Games and will, it is believed, prepare its athletes well by sending them for overseas training and by hiring foreign coaches. (nvn)