Sports execs look past Asiad failure
The Jakarta Post, Doha, Jakarta
Indonesia has no time to play the blame game for its miserable showing at the 15th Asian Games. Instead, it must focus on bouncing back at next year's Southeast Asian Games, the sports minister says.
"We have failed, we were defeated and we have to take the responsibility for this big fiasco in the Asian Games," State Minister for Youth and Sports Adhyaksa Dault said in Doha where he was supporting the national team.
"We are not looking for a scapegoat. It is urgent and important to focus and boost the development of priority sports so that we can reach the top three (nations) at the upcoming SEA Games in Thailand," he said.
Games team chef-de-mission Ahmad Sutjipto said the National Sports Council (KONI) had set five major sports as gold medal targets.
"They are beach volleyball, badminton, karate, bowling and rowing," he said. "We let golds slip through our fingers in the sports here, and we don't want to make the same mistake next year."
From the five sports, only badminton and bowling contributed a gold each to Indonesia's medal collection in Doha.
With three silvers and 15 bronzes, the third-largest country in Asia in terms of population was ranked at 22, far below overall champion China with 165 golds, 88 silvers and 63 bronzes.
However, sports observer Mangombar Ferdinand Siregar said Indonesia should focus on three Olympics events, namely athletics, swimming and gymnastics.
"These three sports are the real gold mines. Without them, we won't be able to take home as many golds. Our mistake at the Asian Games was not sending any athletes in those three sports," he said in Jakarta.
Siregar said KONI should field a greener team at next year's SEA Games and let the nation's world-class athletes focus their preparations on the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
"Don't demand gold medals at the SEA Games. Prepare the young athletes for the 2010 Asiad," he said.
Adhyaksa said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had told him to take immediate measures to catapult Indonesia back into the regional top three.
Indonesia finished fifth at last year's SEA Games in the Philippines. Based on this year Asian Games medal tally, Indonesia is likely to finish sixth next year.
Adhyaksa said a task force -- comprising representatives from sports associations, KONI and his office -- would be established to oversee the national training program.
Associations will be required submit their strategies with detailed SEA Games targets in early January, he said.