Mon, 14 Jul 2003

Track and field still dearth of new records

Arya Abhiseka, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Despite cash bonuses being promised at the National Track and Field Championships, athletes failed to rise to the challenge as no new national records were bettered on the second day of the competition at the Madya stadium here on Sunday.

After a lackluster opening day, seven events were on the roster on Sunday.

Zulkarnaen Purba won the gold medal in the men's 110 meter hurdles for North Sumatra, but his 14.68 seconds was outside the 14.29 second record set by Heru Prayogo in 1987.

In the shot put event the disparity between past and current achievements was evident, as champion Tati Ratna Ningsih from Nangroe Aceh Darussalam (NAD), failed to break her national record of 51.76 meters, recording just 41.44 meters.

Seven contingents evenly shared the honor. However, it was the Central Java team that leads the tournament with two gold medals.

After Kanan won the opening gold in the men's shot put on Saturday, Trianingsih doubled the collection on Sunday after she triumphed in the women's 10,000 meters with a time of 37 minutes, 14.44 seconds. The national best is 32 minutes and 52.45 seconds.

Ong Kok Hin threw the hammer 48.76 meters to win the men's hammer throw for South Sumatra. Other contingents from the Sumatra joining the victories included Bengkulu, through Desi Yunita in the Women's high jump, and Bangka Belitung, courtesy of Suryo Agung in the men's 100 meters.

Dedeh Irawati earned Jakarta a gold medal in the women's 100 meter hurdles and Deysie Sumigar for North Sulawesi in the women's 100 meters.

The Indonesian Amateur Athletics Association (PASI) is offering a reward of Rp 10 million (US$1219) in cash bonuses for athletes who are able to set new national records at the championships.

PASI secretary general Tigor Tanjung attributed the lack of record setting largely on the recent monetary crisis.

"Since the economic crisis hit the country in 1998, our sports has been generally suffering, resulting, particularly in track and field, in the lack of high-performance achievements," he said.

Although new records have yet to come, Tigor was optimistic that new talents would emerge as PASI was concentrating more on bringing the sports back at the grassroots level.

"Suryo Agung, who won the 100-meter sprint event on Sunday, has been groomed by PASI since he was very young. He is a good prospect for the future."

The track and field meet, which will run until Tuesday, serves as the qualifying field for the 2004 National Games and provides opportunities for the athletes to win slots on the national team for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Vietnam in December.