Halt to Indonesian Tradition
Indonesia's medal gains have been diminishing from one Olympics to the next.
THE badminton court at the Athens Olympic Games has turned into a burial ground for the performance of Indonesian athletes. For the first time ever, this country's doubles teams failed to show at the finals. Three pairs had been sent out, but all of them fell mid-way. The failure worries Christian Hadinata as director of the training center. "We will have to make an assessment when we are back home," he says.
In the doubles, only the Flandi Limpele-Eng Hian pair gave a pretty fair showing. They managed to win the bronze medal by defeating their Danish counterparts, Jens Eriksen and Martin Lundgaard, in the contest for third place.
To cut a long story short, in badminton Indonesia only managed to place Taufik Hidayat in the final. He broke through to the final by defeating Boonsak Ponsana from Thailand. Regrettably, earlier hopes for an all-Indonesian final came to nothing as Sony Dwi Kuncoro failed to reach the final. He was defeated by South Korean player Shon Seung Mo, who later lost to Hidayat.
Undeniably, there has been a setback in achievement. In the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Indonesia captured one gold (from badminton), three silver (two badminton, one weightlifting) and two bronze (both from weightlifting). Now, in Athens, up to and through last week Friday, Indonesia had only managed to collect three medals: gold won by Taufik Hidayat, one silver, won by Lisa Rumbewas (weightlifting), and the one bronze from badminton.
The most significant failure is apparent in badminton. In the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, when badminton made its first entry, Indonesia won two gold, two silver, and one bronze. At that time, four players reached the finals. The men's singles final was even an all-Indonesian affair: Alan Budikusuma faced Ardy B. Wiranata. The gold ultimately went to Alan and complemented the gold won by Susi Susanti in the women's singles final.
Four years later, at the Atlanta Olympics, Indonesia placed three players in two final events: Rexy Mainaky/Ricky Subagja in the men's doubles and Mia Audina in the women's singles. Rexy and Ricky won the gold, while Mia got the silver.
At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the men's doubles pair again managed to seize the gold. At that time the victorious pair comprised Candra Wijaya and Tony Gunawan. Indonesia won two more medals then, both silver. One went to Tri Kusharyanto and Minarti Timur in the mixed doubles and the other to Hendrawan in the men's singles.
Sadly enough, the tradition of winning gold and silver medals in appreciable numbers from badminton has now ground to a halt. At the Athens Olympics so far, only Taufik ultimately prevailed.
Pessimism actually was already apparent when the athletes left for Athens. The Indonesian National Sports Committee (KONI) sent out 39 athletes from 14 different sports. The biggest representation in the contingent came from badminton: 14 athletes, followed by weightlifting with seven. "We targeted gold from badminton," said Djohar Arifin, KONI's secretary-general. Significantly, he omitted mentioning the number of the targeted medals.
Weightlifting, on which great hope has been placed, has proven its merits. Lisa Rumbewas snatched the silver in the women's class of 53 kilograms, repeating her feat in Sydney. Her colleagues, however, failed to win any medal. Rosmainar (women's class of 48 kilograms) was disqualified for failing three times in the snatch. The five other athletes in weightlifting were no reason for rejoicing either.
At the last several Olympic Games, nearly always there were additional medal gains outside badminton. This trend started in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, when the women's archery team won the silver, the first ever medal Indonesia gained in any Olympic Games. Then, in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, taekwondo athletes won three silvers, though still in the category of exhibition.
Up to the end of last week, athletes in weightlifting, archery, boxing, shooting, and tennis have completed their competitions. So, no additional medals are forthcoming in these sports. The only hope left is with two taekwondo athletes: Juanda Wangsa Putri (women's 49-kilogram class) and Satriyo Mahadani (men's 59-kilogram class). They performed relatively well in pre-qualification. When they fight this Wednesday, both Juanda and Satriya might well present surprises that would remedy the failures of their colleagues from other sports.