25 November 2009
24 November 2009
Indonesian pencak silat fighters will be heading to the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Laos next month confident of retaining supremacy at the biennial multi-event sporting showcase.
"All of the 13 fighters have a chance of winning gold medals," team head coach Indro Catur Haryono told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
"It's hard to maintain past achievements but we are confident we can," he added.
Indonesian fighters bagged five gold, four silver and three bronze to emerge as overall medal winner in the event two years ago in Thailand.
About the same medal count will be required for the team to maintain its supremacy in the sport, which originates in Indonesia.
The lead-up to the games by the nine men and four women fighters in the squad has been optimistic.
The team includes two gold medalists from the Asian Indoor Games in Vietnam earlier this month and four gold medal winners at the Asian Martial Arts Games in Thailand in August.
Those victorious in Vietnam were Annisa Pangestina and M. Shodiq, while the winning squad members from the Thailand mission were Ni Nyoman Suparniti, I Komang Wahyu, Pujo Janoko and Lutfan Budi Santosa.
Suparniti was also one of the five gold medalists at the last SEA Games.
Lutfan has added a title from the 2007 World Championships to his laurel along with Sofani Rahmaliani, who is also competing in Laos.
Hamdani and Yusuf Effendi, who won gold in the men's doubles at the Asian Beach Games in Bali last year, will also make up the lineup for Laos.
Vietnam's squad has the potential to spoil Indonesia's hopes as it pushes to regain its dominance in the sport.
Having turned to Indonesian coaches to help develop the sport, Vietnam dominated at Brunei Darussalam 1999, Vietnam 2003 and the Philippines 2005 before being relegated to second place in 2007 by collecting only three gold medals.
"The fighters from both Indonesia and Vietnam are on a par in terms of technique and physique. Nonetheless, with a burning desire to win, our fighters will go all out," Indro said.
Nineteen gold medals in pencak silat are up for grabs. However, due to quota regulations set by the organizing committee, Indonesia can only participate in 12 disciplines to be held at the Laos International Trade Exhibition and Convention Center.
After their last sparring matches against Balinese fighters, the Indonesian team is currently undergoing a cooling-down period before embarking for the games, which begin Dec. 9.