JAKARTA (JP): Indonesian pencak silat fighters hope to atone for the 1999 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games by claiming the overall title at the Kuala Lumpur Games in September.
"All the fighters are concentrating on grabbing the overall title. We are facing tough challengers but we'll do our best," men's fighter Tri Widodo, who competes in the 50 to 55-kilogram B class, said on Thursday.
"We can win the title as long as we can focus on each match and have a better spirit than our opponents. Most of my opponents in the Games are similar to my opponents in the World Championships here last year. I already know their styles," he said.
Indonesia will face strong opposition from host country and Vietnam.
Women's 70 to 75-kilogram F class fighter, I Made Arya Dwi Damayanti, echoed the sentiments of Tri.
"Competing in the SEA Games is a new experience for me, but I am optimistic of bringing home a gold, especially after winning gold at the last two National Games.
"I strained some arm muscles during a practice but it is not anything serious. It is only a small thing and I will recover soon," she said.
Coach Maryatno said the fighters were busy preparing themselves for the competition and working on their strategies.
"We are preparing 16 fighters in the fighting events and another nine for the martial arts events.
"Vietnam is the main contender on the women's side, while on the men's side all countries have an equal chance," he said.
The Indonesian Pencak Silat Association (IPSI) has not announced a gold medal, only saying it was aiming to grab the overall title. The National Sports Council (KONI) expects the fighters to win 10 of 21 gold medals at stake.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian Equestrian and Horse Racing Association (Pordasi) is hoping KONI will pay for a French coach for the dressage events.
"Pordasi and the equestrian society will finance two other coaches for show jumping and the three-day events. We need to pay each coach US$3,000 per month," said equestrian project manager Johan Pitoy.
"We have yet to name our core team members as the lineup announcement will take place on Aug. 26. We have a quota of five riders in each event but we'll only send four participants."
Pordasi is aiming for two golds from the dressage and three-day team events. Indonesia won one silver and a bronze at the 1995 SEA Games in Chiang Mai, Thailand, when the sport was last featured.
"We will ship our own horses using a Navy landing ship next week to adapt to the venue, as well as to participate in the World Cup," Johan said.
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