Fri, 09 Aug 2002

RI karatekas to spar with Aussies ahead of Asiad

Musthofid, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Indonesian karate team's members hope to test their skills during a tour of Australia ahead of the real competition at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, South Korea, according to the Indonesian coach.

"In Australia, we will be working out how we use our 'weapons' to score points and how we can maintain our points when we are in the lead," coach Willem Mantiri said during the team's farewell meeting with officials from the National Sports Council (KONI) here on Thursday.

"We are keen to find out if our karatekas can assemble a series of attacks with accuracy in the matches," Willem said further as KONI chairman Wismoyo Arismunandar queried the benefit of traveling to Australia.

"It's very beneficial for the athletes as the tour can become the starting point from which we can plan a strategy for Busan," team manager Tono Soe'oed said.

Tono said the choice of Australia as the last tryout was based on the assumption that the continent had prolific, tough karatekas with a physical build that was the same as those from Iran and the former Soviet states.

Those countries, according to Tono, are traditionally strong contenders in Asia.

The Indonesian karate team currently has five hopefuls for the Busan trip. They are the only female member Jenny Zeanet, M. Hasan Basri, Sonny Simangasing, Bambang Maulidin and Arif Taufan Syamsudin. Arif was a gold medalist in Bangkok four years ago.

They will tour Australia for ten days starting Thursday during which they are to contend with the Australian national team in Sydney and athletes from a number of clubs.

Arif, whose triumph in the karate competition contributed one of only six gold medals brought home by the Indonesian contingent from Bangkok in the 1998 Asian Games, said he was enthusiastic about the Australian outing.

"We have prepared ourselves better than four years ago. We have a training regime with tight discipline and high motivation," he said.

Jenny said she was anxious to evaluate her skills based on her Australian matches.

Although they seemed coy about the prospect of being rewarded with big cash payouts, they admitted that the bonuses promised by KONI would spur them to do their best in Busan.

KONI, which is preparing around 100 athletes for the Busan trip, has promised Rp 250 million as a cash bonus for an athlete who wins a gold medal.