Wed, 24 May 2000

RI eyes better ranking in swimming c'ships

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia will make strong efforts to better its ranking at the 24th South East Asia (SEA) Age Group Swimming Championships in Bali, from May 26 to May 28, an official of the Indonesian Swimming Association (PRSI) said on Tuesday.

Patuan Simatupang, PRSI development chief, said that in last year's 23rd SEA Age Group Swimming Championships held here, Indonesia only managed to come in fourth place with five gold medals. Thailand won the event with 40 golds.

"We know it is a difficult task but we will try our best to better our ranking; if possible to get more than five gold medals," Patuan said.

Patuan was confident that the young boys and girls swimmers could achieve their aim following intensive training.

"It took us about six months to select the good swimmers for the Bali meet. You can imagine how hard the swimmers underwent intensive training," Patuan added.

The Bali championships is divided into three age groups, the first 15-17 years, the second 13-14 years and the third 11-12 years. It will be competed in by 119 swimmers, 68 boys and 51 girls.

The three-day championships will be held at the swimming pool at Hotel Bali Cliff. Aris Munandar, chairman of the National Sports Council (KONI) is scheduled to open the championships.

Patuan said that five foreign countries had confirmed their participation in the coming championships. They include Vietnam (3 boys, 5 girls), Thailand (10 boys, 9 girls), Singapore (25 boys, 18 girls), Brunei Darussalam (2 boys) and the Philippines (11 boys, 7 girls).

About 87 gold medals are at stake in the three age group categories.

"Malaysia formerly wanted to take part in the championships but later withdrew their participation," Patuan said.

Meanwhile, team manager Richard Sam Bera said that the championships would be a barometer for the local swimmers for further national and international tournaments.

"At first we will evaluate their (the swimmers) performance before deciding whether they will compete in national or international events," Richard said.

Richard, however said, his main concern was for the swimmers to take as many gold medals as possible. "Our target is at least 10 golds."

Trainer Radja M. Nasution said that some of the golds could come from Ati Yuliani, Hendrik Eko AP, M. Akbar Nasution, Akhmad Yani, Shelomita and Sary Yunita.

"These swimmers have shown remarkable improvements in their training. I believe we can depend on gaining the golds from them," Radja said.

Radja warned that the local swimmers must be wary of Thailand which has high-rated swimmers. "Our biggest rival is Thailand but we must try to overcome them." (lnt)