Olympics: Indonesians Ready as London Games Begin

By webadmin on 09:44 pm Jul 26, 2012
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Ami Afriatni & Sandy Pramuji

The 30th edition of the Summer Olympics starts on Friday in London, and Indonesia’s athletes are eager to get started.

Twenty-two Indonesians will compete in eight disciplines with the hope of improving their best showings and bringing home a few medals. Judo athlete Putu Wiradamungga Adesta was a late addition, filling in for an Iranian withdrawal.

The Indonesian Olympic Committee (KOI) has set the country’s athletes a modest target of one gold and three bronze medals. Badminton is expected to yield one gold — as it has in every Games since the sport gained full status in 1992 — while the bronzes will likely come from Indonesia’s male weightlifters.

“That’s a realistic target and badminton is still our best bet for gold,” said media mogul Erick Thohir, the team’s chef de mission. “But we really hope the other athletes can spring some surprises.”

Indonesia earned one gold, one silver and three bronzes four years ago in Beijing. Its best showing at a Games since making its debut in Helsinki in 1952 was at the Barcelona Games in 1992, when it won two golds, two silvers and a bronze.

Mixed doubles pair Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir is the country’s top hope to win gold in badminton, Erick said, while lifters Jadi Setiadi (56 kilograms), Eko Yuli Irawan (62 kg) and Triyatno (69 kg) are expected to be in the running for a bronze.

Liliyana fell just short of gold in Beijing with previous partner Nova Widianto. The then-No. 1 pair lost to unseeded South Koreans Lee Yong-dae and Lee Hyo-jeong in the final, and the 26-year-old shuttler vowed to finish the job she left undone four years ago.

“We’re going to take it one game at a time as we don’t want to think beyond what’s in front of us. But of course, our aim is to win and come home with the gold,” Liliyana said before the team left for London on Monday. “We’re raring to go.”

Eko, 23, and Triyatno, 24, each won bronze in Beijing. Lukman, the manager of the weightlifting team, said he thought they could at least match that showing.

“They are in prime condition, so I believe they can achieve the [bronze] target or even better,” Lukman told state news agency Antara on Thursday.

Two of the youngest Indonesian Olympians have high hopes for London.

“I want to be the country’s first swimmer to compete in the Olympic semifinals,” said I Gede Siman Sudartawa, 17, who will compete in the men’s 100-meter backstroke.

Siman, who won four gold medals in the 2011 Southeast Asian Games, will carry Indonesia’s flag during Friday’s Olympic opening ceremony.

The team’s youngest member, 16-year-old Diaz Kusumawardhani, will make history as the country’s first Olympic shooter when she takes aim in the 10 millimeter air rifle event at the Royal Artillery Barracks on Saturday.

“I’m being realistic. I just want to shoot better than the 388 points than I got in Qatar [at the Asian Shooting Championships],” Diaz said.

Archer Ika Yuli Rochmawati will be the first Indonesian to compete in London, with the women’s individual recurve preliminary rounds set to start this morning at the Lord’s Cricket Ground.

Local television station RCTI will have live broadcasts of the opening ceremony, badminton and football matches, while state network TVRI will have show two-hour sessions of live coverage daily at 3 p.m., 9 p.m. and 1 a.m.