Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Athletes Hope for Successful SEA Games

Source: The Jakarta Globe

Despite their lackluster preparation, Indonesian athletes training for the 2013 Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar say they are keeping their spirits high and expect to do well at the event later this month.

“I’m so excited for the Games, and I’m ready to fight,” Lindswell Kwok, a Wushu athlete, said on Monday after the team inauguration and send-off ceremony.

“I have to perform perfectly in every session to score the best. To achieve that, I have to stay focused and forget all the troubles, such as delayed salaries and promised bonuses for medalists, for a while.”

Lindswell staked her claim for a gold medal in Myanmar after winning the Wushu Championship at this year’s World Games in Cali, Colombia, in August and the Islamic Solidarity Games in Palembang, South Sumatra, just a month later.

“I’m trying to forget what I have achieved at the previous two Games and start a whole new journey. Just to remind myself to stay humble,” she said.

“It’s my fourth SEA Games. I think what makes it different is that I have become more mature and I am more disciplined this time. It’s good to be this way, especially given the difficulties that we have experienced in preparation. I see each obstacle as a challenge for me to aim higher and do better,” she added.

Indonesian swimming prodigy Siman Sudartawa also had to deal with the same bureaucratic farce most athletes faced of not getting paid by the government.

“The government has not yet paid my salary,” he said.

“They constantly give us false hope regarding the payment. We have lost hope but we just focused on our preparations.

“I had to use a lot of my savings to purchase everything I needed, including supplements. As a swimmer, I need supplements and apparel, which cost a lot. I’m thankful my apparel is provided by my sponsor,” the 19-year-old added.

But Siman said he would not let the disappointment drag down his target for the Games, where he hopes to win gold in the men’s 100 meters and 200 meters backstroke and the relay.

But this year’s preparation was completely different.

Siman stunned the country at the 2011 SEA Games in Palembang, winning four gold medals after dominating the backstroke events in his very first Games. He also set three new SEA Games records.

Earlier this year, he bested his SEA Games 100m backstroke record with a time of 55.6 seconds at the World Championship in Barcelona.

In the relay, he said, Indonesia hopes to add to the gold medal that it won in 2011.

“So you see, all these problems won’t prevent me from down my best,” he said.

Sports Minister Roy Suryo, who spoke at Monday’s ceremony, said the government hoped to see the Indonesian contingent return with at least 120 gold medals from 33 sports to retain the overall SEA Games championship.

“It’s been a tough situation for us, I know,” he said.

“You are all the best selection to represent the country at the Games and I offer you my congratulations.”

Indonesia is sending 621 athletes and 221 officials to the Myanmar Games to compete in 33 sports. The Games will take place in Naypyitaw, Yangon and Mandalay, from Dec. 11 to 26.

Noticeably absent from Monday’s send-off was President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who chose to skip the event for a retreat with his cabinet at the presidential palace in Cipanas, West Java.

Link: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/sports/athletes-hope-for-successful-sea-games/

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