Lack of top athletes cuts competition at meet
JAKARTA (JP): The absence of Asia's top athletes from the 13th Asian Track and Field Championships will make the event less competitive, said the secretary-general of the Indonesian Amateur Athletic Association (PASI), Tigor M. Tanjung.
However, Tigor expressed optimism Indonesian athletes could benefit from these absences and qualify for the Olympic Games in Sydney in September.
"We hope more Indonesian athletes will be able to qualify for the Olympics because they won't face any tough challenges in the championships," he said on Tuesday.
About 175 athletes from 18 Asian countries are expected to take part in the event.
"I think those athletes who have qualified for the Olympics will not show up for this event. They might want to save their energy for the Games," Tigor said.
Among the top athletes expected to miss the championships is Koji Ito of Japan, who won gold in the 100 meters at the 1998 Asian Games and holds the Games record of 10.00 seconds in the event.
Japan will send its second-string sprinters, including Tetsuya Nakamura, whose personal best in the 100m is 10.26 seconds, and Yasui Akihiro, whose best time at that distance is 10.21 seconds.
"Although there won't be any top athletes in this event, I don't think that the Asian championships will be any less interesting," Tigor said.
Among the Indonesian contingent taking part in the championships, women's long distance runner Supriati, women's long jumper Nyoman Rae Trisandiana and men's pole vaulter Nunung Jayadi are hoping to qualify for the Olympics.
The championships will be the last opportunity these athletes have to qualify for the Olympics before the International Amateur Athletics Federation-set deadline of Sept. 11.
Indonesia has already seen a number of its track and field athletes qualify for the Olympics. They are Irene Truitje Joseph in the women's 100m (time limit B); Yanes Raubaba, Erwin Heru Santoso and John Murray in the men's 100m (time limit A); and the men's 4x100m relay team of Yanes, Erwin, John and Subakir, with Sukari as the substitute (time limit B).
PASI has received the go-ahead from the Jakarta Police to stage the Asian championships from Aug. 28 to Aug. 31.
The event and the Asian Amateur Athletics Association (AAAA) congress were originally planned for Aug. 2 to Aug. 6 but were delayed due to security concerns related to the General Session of the People's Consultative Assembly, being held from Aug. 7 to Aug. 18.
Tigor also said he had asked State Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Mahadi Sinambela to officially open the championships. (ivy)