MONDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2008 -- Balinese pencak silat athletes led Indonesia's medal hunt at the Asian Beach Games on Sunday, winning the first two gold medals at stake in the martial arts competition.
Gusti Ngurah Arya Yudapandita gave a breathtaking performance at his international debut to grab the first gold for the national squad.
Competing in the men's singles artistic category, Yudapandita silenced the cheering crowd at Tanjung Benoa Beach near Nusa Dua with his skillful movements.
The jury awarded him 457 points and the gold medal.
Anh Nguyen Viet of Vietnam scored 450 for the silver and Muhammad Khairul Bahrin from Brunei Darrusallam collected 449 points to win the bronze.
"I couldn't be happier. This is my first international event and I won the gold medal," Yudapandita said.the recent National Games I only took silver, but three months of training helped me prepare for this event very well." Indonesia's celebrations lasted longer as the women's doubles artistic team, Sang Ayu Ketut Sidan and Ni Made Dwiyanti, booked the second gold medal.
Sidan and Dwiyanti earned 570 points to top Vietnam's Nguyen Thi Binh and Thao Vu Thi, who scored 562 for the silver and Malaysia's Maslinda Zakaria and Kamilah Sulong, who collected 535 points for the bronze.
Both junior high school students, Sidan and Dwiyanti said they had set a target of winning the gold despite the tough challenge from their experienced rivals.
Indonesian artistic coach Wayan Suwita said he predicted the Indonesian athletes to take advantage of playing in front of a home crowd and being able to adjust to competition ground for about three months.
"It's clear from their performance that our athletes were rich in technique," Suwita said. Other athletes made good movements, but without much technique.
"In the end they seemed to wear out. Our athletes displayed their expertise in terms of the logic of movement, the correctness of movement and good stamina." Coach Dani Wisnu agreed that the Indonesian athletes were dominant in technique and in stamina."They deplored a variety of good techniques on every block of the ground, while other athletes seemed to repeat the same movements." Bronze medalist Muhammad Khairul Durahman of Brunei Darussalam said he was satisfied with the result.
But the artistic category is based on the subjective opinion of the jury, he said, who can sometimes deliver unpredictable decisions.
"The beach pencak silat is of course harder than usual pencak silat, but that's not the problem," said Durahman, who is an army private in the Brunei defense force. "The problem is that it depends on the subjectivity of the jury." Coach Dani Wisnu rejected Durahman's view. He said technical skills in pencak silat could be measured.
"It's not totally true," he said. "Of course the jury has their own subjectivity, but they also have guidelines and rules to measure the performance of the athletes.
"Nevertheless, today's games clearly show that our athletes were dominant in terms of technique and stamina." The medal presentation of the first gold medal of the Bali Asian Beach Games was attended by the Olympic Council of Asia president Sheik Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah and director general of Bali Asian Beach Games Organizing Committee (BABGOC).
"Today, Indonesia wins two gold medals which (in the past) they could only have won at regional games," Sheik Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah told The Jakarta Post.
"Now they have the same standard of all the other Asian championships. This is the idea of it. As the president of OCA I'm very happy that we are giving more chance for our athletes to compete."
Written by MATHEOS VIKTOR MESSAKH
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