JAKARTA: Indonesia hopes to continue its tradition of winning Olympic medals as the country sends a small contingent to the summer games in Beijing. While that target appears to be on track, clinching gold may be an uphill task.
The country hopes to celebrate when shuttler Taufik Hidayat returns from the Beijing Olympics.
But Taufik’s been in poor form recently and was struck down with dengue fever at the end of July, casting doubts about his ability to defend the Olympic title he won in Athens four years ago.
It is the only gold medal won by Indonesia.
Hopes now rest on the country’s men’s and mixed doubles – both ranked top for the Beijing Olympics.
Mulyana, Head Coach, Indonesia’s Olympic Badminton Team, said: “We still have hopes for the traditional gold medal from badminton. The chance is still there.”
Indonesia’s quest for gold will be severely challenged by China which is looking to sweep all five badminton medals – a target many pundits say is achievable given the Chinese shuttlers’ recent form in international tournaments.
Weightlifting is another medal prospect with experienced athletes such as Lisa Rumbewas leading the charge, having won silver in Athens.
For 19-year-old Ika Yuliana, this will be her first Olympics after coming up tops in the last Southeast Asian Games. And she has her feet firmly on the ground even as she sets her sights on the target in front.
Ika Yuliana, Indonesia’s archery team, said: “I’m not thinking about a medal because of the stiff competition from South Korea and China. But I’ll do my best.”
Archery is one of the sports that have traditionally contributed medals for Indonesia in the Olympics.
But no target has been set this time round.
Putu Wulan Budisetyani, Indonesia’s archery coach, said: “We are realistic about medal prospect. In Asia, we are still below South Korea. But hopefully our athletes are not pessimistic because we are indeed the underdog. At least they can improve their personal record and improve their world ranking.”
Indonesia will be represented by 24 athletes in Beijing which is small in comparison to previous games.
Indonesia won four medals at the last Olympics in Athens, including one gold from badminton. The only other ASEAN country that won medals was Thailand with eight.
This time round the Indonesian athletes have not set any medal target but are determined to add to the 20 Olympic medals the country has won since their first games in 1952. – CNA/vm
Channel News Asia