18 October 2008

Athletes grapple with new pencak silat rules

Pencak Silat, a martial art originating from Indonesia, will be played outdoors during the Asian Beach Games.

As a result, the athletes will face new challenges, forcing the organizers to adjust the rules and regulations.

The organizers made adjustments to the rules during a workshop in Jakarta, Oyong Karma Yuda, Bali Asian Beach Games Organizing Committee (BABGOG) competition manager for pencak silat, said.

"Among them is the use of sunglasses to protect athletes eyes, but it is not mandatory. There are also penalties for those who deliberately toss sand at their rivals' eyes,"Karma Yuda told The Jakarta Post at the pencak silat venue, Tanjung Benoa Beach, on Friday.

He said BABGOC had also held several training sessions for referees on the additional rules and regulations.

Indonesian team manager Bambang Rus Effendi said he brought the team to the site in early August so they could get used to the venue and the climate.

"During training we tried every possibility, including wearing every kind of glasses such as swimming goggles, beach volleyball glasses and even snorkeling goggles, but most players finally found it more comfortable not to use any glasses," Effendi said.

The team discovered a special trick to deal with the possibility of getting sand in their eyes, he said.

Bambang said that playing pencak silat outdoors was akin to bringing it back to nature as the martial art, which is practiced throughout the Melayu archipelago, was traditionally played on the beach.

The Pencak silat competition starts Sunday and will provide the first gold medal of the Games.
The National Sports Council (KONI) is optimistic that after Indonesia's domination in the region in the indoor competition, the team will win at least four of the eight gold medals on offer.

"Every team member has the opportunity to win gold. We have lots of champions. I don't want to specify one because it will place a burden upon them,"Bambang said.

"Although KONI expects only five medals to defend our reputation, I would like to say that we aim to win all eight."

The Indonesian team has 10 athletes who will play in eight categories. They are Diyan Kristianto (men's 45 to 50 kilograms), Pranoto (men's 80 to 85 kilograms), Ni Nyoman Supartini (women's 60 to 65 kilograms), Ria Puspitasari (women's 45 to 50 kilograms), Hamdani and M. Yusuf (artistic men's pair) , Ayu Septiana and Dwiyanti (artistic women's pair), I Gusti Ngurah Arya Yudha (artistic men's singles) and I Putu Sepyanawati (artistic women's singles).

Ni Nyoman Supartini said beach pencak silat provided greater challenges because playing on sand made players prone to exhaustion.

"It's definitely heavier to move around and to kick. Sometimes we have to be more careful because you can easily lose your footing,"Supartini said.

However, Supartini, who won gold in the 45 up to 50 kilograms category during the 2007 Nakhon Ratchasima SEA Games, said she was ready to fight. She is cautious, however, about the rivalry posed by the seven other countries participating in the pencak silat event.

"Although we became the champion of the discipline at the last SEA Games Vietnam is right behind us. We won five gold medals and they won four gold medals, so there is not much difference."

Coach Dani Wisnu said the athletes would be less agile and their pace would be slower because their feet could dig into the sand up to 10 centimeters.

"They have to deal with the sun and the sand. It definitely requires more energy than the usual pencak silat," Wisnu said.

To become acclimatized, some teams such as Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore begun training in Indonesia long before the event.

The Malaysian team arrived in Benoa two weeks before the host team. Vietnam has trained at several beaches in Bali for about a month and Singapore, which arrived in Bali on Thursday, sent its athletes to neighboring Bintan island to train for about two weeks.

"We are a bit worried because the sand is softer and drier than the sand in Bintan where we previously held our training," Singapore team official Sheik Alau'ddin bin Yacoob Marican said, adding that the heavy equipment of the sport would also cause a problem.

"Other sports will wear beach suits, but pencak silat athletes will still wear their formal suits. It will definitely cause a challenge," Marican said, adding beach Pencak silat would be featured at the next Singaporean national games.

Written by Matheos Viktor Messakh
Sourced from http://old.thejakartapost.com/detailsports.asp?fileid=20081018.T01&irec=0

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