The End of 2018 Asian Games: Sports Unite People

51
(illustration: IO/Agung)

IO, Jakarta – Sports bring people together across race, religion, gender, geography, political affiliation, age and any other differences, uniting us through our support and pride of our people and our nation. The 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games was proof that Indonesia is a nation worthy of respect in the region. 31 gold, 24 silver, and 43 bronze medals show the best achievement of the Indonesian contingent’s participation in the Asian Games since the first all-Asia sports event was held in New Delhi, India, in 1951.

Of the 31 gold medals we won, pencak silat was the biggest contributor sport. Our heritage sports branch earned us 14 gold medals and 2 bronzes. Pencak silat has also served as a symbol of our nation’s unity at the event. Hanifan Yudani Kusumah, C-class (55 kg to 60 kg) gold medalist, united President Joko Widodo and President of the Indonesian Pencak Silat Association (Ikatan Pencak Silat Indonesia – “IPSI”) Prabowo Subianto, rival candidates for presidency in the upcoming elections, in an all-enveloping hug. “They are both the best men of our nation,” Hanifan said. “I will say only that Indonesia is a single package, meaning it is one-of-a-kind, Indonesia must unite and remain peaceful. They both said the same thing: “Thank you for having fought hard for Indonesia”.”

Prabowo expressed his gratitude: “Thank you to the President, Vice President, Fifth President Ibu Megawati, and the Coordinating Minister of Human and Cultural Development (Menteri Koordinator Pembangunan Manusia dan Kebudayaan – “Menko PMK”) who are present during a critical moment for Indonesia. We must always unite for Indonesia’s sake.”

“After having won the gold medal, silat athlete Hanifan Yudani Kusumah ran his victory lap and climbed to where I was sitting with IPSI Chairman Bapak Prabowo Subianto. All three of us embraced under the cover of the red-and-white. Congratulations to Indonesia’s pencak silat athletes, trainers, and management,” Jokowi said in his Twitter account @jokowi.

We must appreciate the hard work of the athletes, trainers, and other supporting units. They have walked a long winding path before they managed to reach the highest achievement. “IPSI selects silat athletes very strictly before they can enter national training focus – whether through National Championships, National Sports Weeks, National Student Sports Week, or ASEAN Student Sports Week,” said IPSI Secretary General, Erizal Chaniago.

Erizal categorically rejects the view that there was double-dealing in the pencak silat event. Other than strict selection, the athletes trained at the National Training (Traineran Nasional – “Pelatnas”) all undergo strict training regimes in Jakarta, Puncak, and Solo as well as go on try-outs to Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia. “If any of the participants would like to protest, they can view the video records, which also help umpires and judges to remain. The world silat association, Persilat, enforces fair play in all silat competitions,” he said.

We are all very happy. The Indonesian people are proud, and the athletes are also happy with the bonus they earned from their hard work. The bonus for individual gold medalists is Rp 1.5 billion, double gold medalist athletes get Rp 1 billion each, and team gold medalist members get Rp. 750 million each. Other than a cash bonus, the Government also awards Asian Games athletes the status of civil servants as well as bonus homes from the Ministry of Public Works and People’s Housing (Kementerian Pekerjaan Umum dan Perumahan Rakyat – “KEMENPUPR”).

We may be euphoric about Indonesia’s success in the 2018 Asian Games, but no party is without an end. We must work and train hard again as the Manila 2019 SEA Games and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are waiting for us. As Jonatan Christie, the single male badminton gold medalist, aptly said, “Being a champion goes as far as receiving your medal on the stage. Once you get down from the stage, you’re no longer a champion – you must go back to strict training and hard work.”

Some branches of sport are still waiting for directions from the Ministry of Youth and Sports (Kementerian Pemuda dan Olahraga – “Kemenpora”) before they can submit their Budget Plans (Rancangan Anggaran Belanja – “RAB”). “Our budget for Pelatnas ends in September. We still don’t know what’s next. We are waiting for technical directions, so we can organize the budget,” said the Vice General Chairman of the Indonesian Wall-climbing Federation (Federasi Panjat Tebing Indonesia – “FPTI”) Central Management, Pristiawan Buntoro, as quoted by Kompas newspaper. This branch contributed 3 gold medals, 2 silvers, and 1 bronze to the list.

Now, our athletes seek to participate in the Olympics as their next target. Diananda Choirunis, silver medalist archer, expressed her will to appear in Tokyo later: “The Olympics is my lifelong dream.” Meanwhile, Aries Susanti Rahayu, gold medalist female wall-climber, also called the Spider Woman, said, “After the Asian Games, we are focusing on the Olympics. We are going to do our best to winning the gold. Nothing is impossible.”

Several branches have to develop new strategies other than hard practice. For example, Eko Yuli Irawan, gold medalist weightlifter from the 62 kg class at the 2018 Asian Games. Eko has also won the bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the 56 kg class, as well as the bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics and silver medal in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in the 62 kg class. The 62 kg class weightlifting will not be held in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, so Eko must change classes if he still wants to compete in this world sports event.

Yet Eko is not giving up: he is still motivated to get a gold medal in the Olympics. “The preparations will be much harder, because I must change classes. I must also maintain my weight, as I am no longer young. We simply have to focus more with this class change,” 28-year-old Eko said. It is much harder for older athletes like Eko to maintain health and performance: “I must rely more on my nutrition and vitamin ingestion,” he said.

The Jakarta-Palembang 2018 Asian Games have ended, but we must never end our support for our sports heroes – nor may we end our brotherhood and unity as a nation.

Who are we…? We are INDONESIA!

(Roosyudhi Priyanto)