Jakarta (ANTARA News) - In retrospect, Indonesias national athletic team had its historic moment back in 1962 when Indonesia hosted the 4th Asian Games in Jakarta.
At that time, Indonesias Mohammad Sarengat became the fastest athlete in 100 meter mens sprint race and 110 meter mens hurdles race, securing two gold medals for the country from the two prestigious track events.
Sarengat also won a bronze medal in 200 meter mens race that year.
Other national runners, such as Gurnam Singh, Awang Papilaja, and Soeatini, and the womens relay race team managed to win bronze medals for Indonesia.
From 1960 to 1970, Indonesias national athletic team rejoiced in its golden era.
However, Indonesia did not win any gold medal in athletics until 1998, when Suprianto Sutono dashed to be the first in 5,000 meter mens race in the 13th Asian Games held in Bangkok, Thailand.
The team had their ups and downs in competing at the Asian level.
Sixteen years later, during the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, track and field athlete Maria Natalia Londa won a gold medal for Indonesia in womens long jump.
Fifty-six years after hosting Asian athletes, Indonesia will once again organize the Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta and Palembang, South Sumatra.
The quadrennial sports event will be another proving ground for Indonesian national athletics team.
Preparing the team
Indonesian national athletics association PB PASI is preparing some national athletes to compete in the prestigious athletics event in Asian Games 2018.
The five gold medals, seven silver medals, and three bronze medals that they won from 2017 SEA Games athletics in Malaysia have become a morale boost for the athletes to train themselves for the upcoming Asian Games.
Despite having no particular target when competing with more superior international teams, such as China, Japan, and even India, Indonesias national athletic team will do the best they can, Mohammad Hasan, Chair of PB PASI remarked.
The Asian Games would be much more competitive compared to those of the early years since its inception in 1951, with contenders from the Middle East and Post-Soviet states such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan.
Therefore, PASI has readied some development and training programs for national athletes, such as training camp, international event tour, and also medical and nutrition supervision, which will take place from Jan until Aug 2018.
The national athletics association has also planned to summon and train more national athletes for the 2018 Asian Games.
"We need at least 30 athletes to compete in the Asian Games. The number will cover around half of the total events in athletics," Secretary General of PB PASI Tigor M. Tanjung stated.
The association is eyeing athletes such as Rio Maholtra and Sapwaturrahman to compete in Asian Games 2018.
Maholtra is the current national record holder in 110 meter hurdle race, with 14.08 second. Sapwaturrahman, meanwhile, was seen as a potential athlete since he marked 7.79 meter in long jump, coming close to SEA Games 2017 silver medalist Suwandi Wijayas mark of 7.78 meters.
Track and field athletes who have competed in Asian Games 2014 and Asian Athletics Championship 2017 are among other candidates preferred by PASI for the Asian Games 2018.
In January and February next year, PASI will propose to summon more athletes to attend the national training camp.
However, Tanjung remarked that more than 100 athletes should be listed in the national training programs if the country wishes to have athletes participate in all track and field events in the Asian Games.
Besides expecting more athletes to be involved, PASI also has great expectation to concentrate the national training camp at the Madya Stadium in Jakarta.
All this time, national training camps have been taking place in several separate locations, such as in Rawamangun Stadium in Jakarta, Pakansari Stadium in Bogor, and other training camps in Bandung and Bali.
Setting new pace
Participation in the Asian Games 2018 would be a moment of international recognition for Indonesia, national racewalking athlete Hendro Yap remarked.
"The upcoming Asian Games will be my first Asian Games after missing the 2014 Games," he added.
Yap has been training hard to fulfill his dream and to improve his record in 20,000 meter and 50,000 meter racewalking in the Asian Games.
His best mark in 50,000 meter racewalking was 4 hour and 10 minutes, while in 20,000 meter racewalking, he crossed the finish line in 2 hours and 27 minutes to break his previous national record.
One hour and 19 minutes will be the goal for Yap in the Asian Games 2018s 20k race walk.
The gold medalist from three SEA Games of 2013, 2015, and 2017 would be a strong contender from Indonesia in 20k race walk in the Asian-level sport event.
Another dream for gold medal has also driven national athlete Emilia Nova, who would be competing in heptathlon and 100 meter hurdle race, to train hard for Asian Games 2018.
Nova will have to set her pace faster against strong contenders from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, who often dominate heptathlon, a track and field combined events made of seven events, which include running, jumping, and throwing.
In hurdle race, Nova revealed that Japanese and South Korean athletes would be her strong opponents in the Asian Games 2018s hurdles race.
Athletic events in Asian Games 2018 will take place in the main stadium, Gelora Bung Karno, in Jakarta.
Gaining good result is not the only goal for PASI in Asian Games but also nurturing young athletes and talents.
"There must be regeneration," Tigor pointed out.
The relay baton of Indonesian athletic team was once held by veterans such as Sudarmojo, AF Matulessy, Hendarsin Hendamihardja, Annie Salamun, Triwulan, Darwati, and Lie Djian Nio.
Younger generation in athletics, such as Hendro Agus Prayogo, Atjong Tio, Triyaningsih, Maria Londa, Emilia Nova, and Eki Febri Ekawati, will continue the struggle with their determination, dedication, and hard work, setting a new pace for the entire team in the upcoming Asian Games as well as future athletics events.
The 18th Asian Games 2018 will be held in Jakarta and Palembang from Aug 18 to Sept2 next year.
Source: ANTARA News