Eko Yuli Irawan has delivered for his country in the Olympics once again.
The 23-year-old weightlifter secured Indonesia’s first medal at the London Games after finishing third in the men’s 62-kilogram division on Monday night.
North Korean lifter Kim Un-guk took the gold with a world record total lift of 327 kilograms. Eko’s total was 317 kg, the same as Oscar Figueroa, but the Indonesian had to settle for bronze because he was 13 grams heavier than the Colombian.
Eko was nevertheless proud of earning his second Olympic medal. His first, which was also bronze, came at the 2008 Games in Beijing in the men’s 56-kg division.
He became the country’s third athlete to medal in two consecutive Olympics after women’s singles shuttler Susi Susanti (1992 and 1996) and women’s weightlifter Raema Lisa Rumbewas (2000 and 2004).
“That was my best lift ever. Unfortunately, I had to settle for bronze,” said the Lampung native, who has yet to fully recover from a right shin injury sustained during a training session before London.
“Every Olympics has been tough for me,” he added. “In Beijing I was suffering from a hamstring injury just before the Games started and now this. That’s why I’m very grateful to have this chance to compete in the Olympic and win another medal.”
For his bronze, Eko will earn a Rp 250 million ($27,000) cash bonus from the government. “That will be a gift for my wife, who will deliver our baby in the next two months,” he said.
Eko, who now resides in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, said he hoped his medal would inspire other athletes.
“They have to set their sights high and work very hard,” he said. “Being just an athlete would just be a waste of time.”
Youth and Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng praised Eko’s achievement.
“He’s been showing great determination to win the medal despite the injury,” Andi said. “I believe more medals will be coming in London after this, hopefully gold.”
The country’s best hope for gold is still badminton. On Tuesday, men’s singles shuttler Taufik Hidayat beat Spain’s Pablo Abian 22-20, 21-11 to set up a tasty round of 16 match with China’s Lin Dan, who won gold in 2008. Taufik won gold at the Athens Games in 2004.
“I’m ready for him,” Taufik said of Lin. “It will be an exciting match.”
Lin has dominated Taufik of late, beating him in their last 11 matches.
However, this will be Taufik’s last Olympics, and his fans are hoping for a great send-off.
“Winning or losing happens every day in sports,” the 31-year-old Indonesian star said. “I’ll just try my best.”
Simon Santoso also qualified for the round of 16, locking up his spot with a 21-11, 21-7 win over Austria’s Michael Lahnsteiner. He will play against Malaysian ace Lee Chong Wei in the knockout rounds.