BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (JP):Indonesia was forced to acknowledge the emerging supremacy of Vietnam in pencak silat as the event closed at the 20th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games on Friday.
Indonesia's five golds, three silvers and six bronzes failed to meet the goal of the Indonesian Pencak Silat Association (IPSI) for seven golds. Indonesia won 17 of 21 golds at stake at the Games two years ago.
Vietnam topped the medal standings with six golds, four silvers and two bronzes, doubling its achievement from two years ago.
Indonesian first-timer Permata Kemalasari Ladowo, 19, dashed the hopes of the 5,000-strong home crowd, which included Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, by upsetting Umi Kalthum Abdul Karim in the women's class A (45-50kgs).
"She had all the support, but it didn't discourage me from fighting against her," Permata said. "On the contrary, I was motivated to beat her in front of the sultan and her public. I wanted to prove everybody that I can do it and I'm sure I have the blessings from God."
Khaltum, who lit the cauldron at the Games opening last week, said her opponent was better prepared.
Indonesian veteran Ni Made Wahyuni overwhelmed Nguyet Minh Le of Vietnam in the women's class E (65-70 kilograms) for gold.
His compatriot Abas Akbar outclassed Brunei's Faudillah Hj Md Ghani in the men's class D (60-65kgs) despite a cut mouth.
Unfortunately, Ni Made Suparmi broke her right arm and was forced to retire in the women's class C (55-60kgs) final against Vietnamese Thi Mui.
IPSI secretary-general Oyong Karmayudha expressed dissatisfaction over his fighters' achievements this year.
"We must be introspective about the national training programs. There's nobody who really wants to devote themselves to developing pencak silat across the nation. Only IPSI does."
He blamed the brief training period and fund shortages for the poor showing.
"In 1997, we had one year to prepare ourselves for the event. The long period allowed us to improve our regional fighters to meet the national standards.
"This year, we only had three months to prepare and limited funds to finance overseas stints. I don't blame the National Sports Council (KONI) for failing to support us. It should be the government who finances our preparation."
He dismissed charges that the refereeing was biased against the Indonesians and faulted his athletes for sometimes failing to heed the rules.
"Some of them do not understand the rules. For example, a rule says that one fighter is only allowed to perform for three minutes. If the fighter performs more or less than the given time, there is a penalty."
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