London. With Indonesia still to win a medal after the third day of the 2012 London Olympics, top officials are already talking about changing the vision of sports in the country.
“Our sporting efforts usually aim at achievements in the SEA [Southeast Asian] Games, not the Olympics. Now we’re beginning to change that narrow vision,” Indonesian Olympic Committee (KOI) chairwoman Rita Subowo said on Sunday night.
“We will start to give more priority to athletes who will vie for a spot in the Olympics, and the government has said it will give its full support to the plan.”
Rita said that in recent years, sports officials had funneled more resources, including funding, into chasing regional glory at the biennial SEA Games, which involves obscure non-Olympic sports such as petanque, dancing sports and vovinam. As a result, she said, many Olympic sports have been neglected.
There are 22 Indonesian athletes competing in London. The biggest contingent is in badminton, with nine athletes, followed by six weightlifters. Five athletes only made it to London after being given wild cards by the International Olympics Committee. Women’s fencer Diah Permatasari is the only athlete outside badminton and weightlifting who earned a spot in London by merit.
“We realize now that [focusing more on the SEA Games] was a mistake,” Rita said. “From now on, we will put all our focus on the Olympic sports. We’ll send all promising athletes to every qualifying tournament for the next Olympics.
“Until now badminton has produced all of Indonesia’s six Olympic gold medals since Barcelona 1992. We can’t rely only on badminton any longer.”
On Monday, women’s singles shuttler Adrianti Firdasari had a stuttering start in her group stage campaign, advancing with a tough 21-10, 16-21, 21-14 win against Alesia Zaitsava of Belarus in Group O.
“I started well but made lots of mistakes in the second game,” world No. 64 Adrianti told the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) website. “She got most of her points from my mistakes.”
Only group winners qualify for the next round and Adrianti will move on if she beats Petya Nedelcheva of Bulgaria in the group’s last match today. Nedelcheva beat Zaitsava 21-7, 21-19 on Sunday.
Indonesia singles coach Wong Tat Meng said Adrianti needed to improve her game if she hoped to beat the world No. 19. “Petya is a good player who has strong hands and good defense. Adrianti has to control the tempo and hit the shuttlecock with more power,” the Malaysian coach said ahead of the match.
Meanwhile, weightlifter Muhamad Hasbi topped Group B with a total lift of 301 kilograms in the men’s 62kg division on Monday afternoon. However, he has to wait until Group A finishes up, sometime today, before he learns whether that lift was good enough for a medal.
Jadi Setiadi finished fifth in the men’s 56kg on Sunday with a total lift of 277kg.
Om Yun-chol of North Korea won the gold with total lift of 293kg, followed by Wu Jingbiao of China and Azerbaijan’s Valentin Hristov in second and third, respectively.
“I’m disappointed,” said Jadi, who had been tipped for a bronze in the event. “I didn’t compete well. Probably because I had to lose four kilograms just a week before the competition.”
Indonesia’s only female lifter in London, Citra Febrianti, exceeded expectations as she finished fourth in the 53kg division. Citra lifted a total of 206kg.
“That was my best career total lift. I’m really proud of that achievement but I’m still far behind the medalists,” said the 24-year-old.
Kazakhstan’s Zulfiya Chinshanlo won the gold with a world-record lift of 131kg in the clean and jerk. Combined with her 95kg in the snatch, she had a winning total of 226kg. Taiwan’s Hsu Shu-Ching had a total lift of 219kg for the silver, while the bronze medal went to Cristina Iovu of Moldova, who finished tied with Hsu on 219kg but was relegated to third place because she weighs more.