Third Place Slipping From Indonesia’s Grasp

Gold medalists Husaini Noor, left, and Muhammed Nasrulla of Indonesia
competing in the finals of the
platform synchronized diving event on Monday.

Vientiane, Laos. With four days left in the Southeast Asian Games, Indonesia is far from its target of third place in the medals table. The country, whose regional sports dominance has slipped since the late 1990s, is fifth in the medal tally with 21 gold medals, 21 silver and 36 bronze. Regional powerhouse Thailand leads the Games with 42 golds, 49 silver and 48 bronze. Vietnam (31-30-38) is second, followed by Singapore (27-18-25) and Malaysia (22-27-35). If Indonesia is to reach its top-three target, it must win more than its share of the 250 gold medals still up for grabs. “We think that 150 of those golds will go to Thailand and Vietnam, but they could still make mistakes,” Indonesia deputy chef de mission Djoko Pramono said on Monday. “We have the same chance as other countries for the other 100.” He refused to speculate on whether Indonesia could attain the top-three finish the government wanted before the Games. “All I can say is we still have a chance. To finish third, we’ll need at least 30 more golds,” he said. Indonesia finished fourth at the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand, winning 56 gold, 64 silver and 82 bronze medals. That followed a fifth-place showing at the 2005 Games in Manila, the country’s worst in history, with 49 gold, 79 silver and 89 bronze. It last won the medal tally when it hosted the 1997 Games, winning 194 golds and 410 medals overall. Badminton’s individual events are the nation’s best bet this year. During the 2007 SEA Games, Indonesian shuttlers swept all seven gold medals, including the two team events. The best they can do this year is six after the women’s team lost to Malaysia in the final. With 26 golds yet to be awarded, athletics could also be a place to make up ground. Suryo Agung Wibowo could add to his men’s 100-meter gold by winning the 200 meters on Wednesday, and women’s 5,000-meter champion Triyaningsih stands a good chance to win the 10,000 meters. Other medal hopefuls include men’s marathon runner Yazuha and women’s 110-meter hurdler Dedeh Erawati. Indonesia should do well in pencak silat, a martial art that originated in the country. Its defending SEA Games champions in men’s indoor and beach volleyball are still unbeaten after the group phase. Other possibilities include wrestling, judo and tennis. If Indonesia falls short, the government may ask just how well the Indonesian Olympic Committee’s Rp 19.5 billion (US$2.1 million) SEA Games budget was spent.

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