Every athlete dreams of competing in the Olympics and for Eko Yuli Irawan, that dream has come through once again. The weightlifter won a bronze medal in London to add to the bronze he won in Beijing four years ago.
To be a two-time Olympic medalist is a unique achievement. Indonesians should be proud. Eko’s feat should be especially celebrated, given that the country has produced far too few medalists to date.
Eko became only the country’s third athlete to medal in two consecutive Olympics. The first two were women’s singles shuttler Susi Susanti (1992 and 1996) and women’s weightlifter Lisa Raema Rumbewas (2000 and 2004).
Eko said he hoped his achievement would inspire other Indonesian athletes to duplicate his feat in London and in future Games.
“They have to set their sights high and worked very hard,” he said. “Being just an athlete would just be a waste of time.”
These words should be taken to heart by all aspiring athletes who want to achieve glory.
Hard work, dedication and the will to win are paramount for all champions. Despite the size of its population, Indonesia has punched far below its weight in international sports. We need only look as far as China for an example of a country that has made sports a top priority.
Youth and Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng has rightly praised Eko’s feat. The minister, however, must design a program where the country produces hundreds of Ekos in all sports so that we have many more champions to celebrate. Sports is an area in which Indonesians can excel, but only if we devote enough resources and develop the right training programs.
Hopefully in future Olympics, Indonesia can rank high in the medals tally. It would be a fitting legacy to what Eko has achieved.