The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Fri, 11/18/2011 11:51 AM A | A | A | Indonesia is back atop the podium in pencak silat, with its emotionally charged comeback as Southeast Asian (SEA) Games champion bolstered by its home advantage.
After closely contested bouts on Thursday at Padepokan Pencak Silat TMII in East Jakarta, the host team finished one short of its target of 10 golds, with a total of nine gold, five silver and two bronze medals from 18 events. It beat out its closest rivals Vietnam (six gold, seven silver, five bronze) and Malaysia (three gold, one silver, seven bronze).
In the 2009 SEA Games, Indonesia could only muster two golds, trailing Vietnam with six golds and Malaysia with four. It was a particularly humiliating defeat because the martial art originated in the Indonesian archipelago.
On Tuesday, Indonesia made a clean sweep of the six artistic (seni) medals in competition.
National head coach Maryatno said his team was buoyed by its tremendous home support and also 18 months of intensive training.
“The presence of family members also lifted the spirits of our athletes,” he said.
However, he conceded that Vietnam, which had been touted as the new force in pencak silat two years ago, displayed formidable mental strength, while his team was brittle at times.
The atmosphere was feverish on Thursday’s final day, with the 3,000-seat sports hall packed with local spectators as well as fans from neighboring countries.
From the eight Indonesian fighters vying for gold after a haul of five golds on Wednesday, only Dian Kristianto (class A 45-50 kg), Amelia Roring (class E 65-70 kg) and Rosmayani (C 65-70 kg) were
“It was a hard match, my opponent is strong and I was worrying about my knee during the fight because my ligament was injured in 2009,” Dian said, saying his opponents usually attacked his weaker knee.
Dian, who was also the champion at the 2007 Games, dedicated his medal to his wife Niken Hartati. His final against Anothai Choopeng of Thailand was marred by local spectators throwing empty plastic bottles after Thai fans accused the referee of bias against their athlete.
There was a thrilling encounter between Indonesia’s Sapto Purnomo and Malaysia’s Ahmad Shahril in men’s group D (60-65 kg) amid fervent sentiment between supporters of the two athletes.
“I just fell once, I am a little bit disappointed but I will have to be introspective about it,” Sapto said of losing 5-0 on points.
He added that Shahril was his fiercest rival after he defeated the Malaysian in the 2010 Word Cup semifinal in Jakarta on his way to becoming world champion.
“Maybe he learned my moves from the last time we met,” said Sapto. (rpt)