The Youthful Champions
The 18th Asian Games saw the arrival of some new athletic stars for Indonesia.
The 18th Asian Games saw the arrival of some new athletic stars for Indonesia. Jonatan Christie, 20, created euphoria for winning the gold in men’s singles badminton, last won by Taufik Hidayat 12 years ago. Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto, 23 and 22 respectively, took the silver medal, nearly defeating their senior countrymen, the world’s best in men’s doubles badminton, Marcus Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya.
Sprinter Lalu Muhammad Zohri became a phenomenon. The stands were filled with people who had seen a video of Zohri which went viral, when he became a world champion in the Under 20 100-meter dash last July. Even though this 18-year-old lost, everyone cheered. Hurdler Emilia Nova, 23, earned a silver medal in the 100 meter hurdles, something which no Indonesian has been able to do at the Asian Games in the past 20 years. On the same day, Sapwaturrahman, 24, became the first Indonesian to jump more than eight meters.
Another surprise came from the tennis court when Aldila Sutjiadi, 23, who was paired with Christopher Rungkat, won the gold medal for mixed doubles. There was also some new talent, such as Aries Susanti, 23, who competed in speed climbing, a new event.
Nearly every day for two weeks, these young champions were responsible for the Indonesian national anthem being played in sports arenas in Jakarta and Palembang. It raises hopes for the Olympics two years from now.