With less than two months remaining before the Southeast Asian Games open in Laos, Indonesian teams are scrambling to squeeze in as much preparation as possible.
Among those hoping to sharpen their skills abroad is the karate team, which announced a 17-strong squad on Wednesday. It plans to send its 10 men to a tournament in Cape Town, South Africa, while the women compete in the Austrian Open.
Karate brought home 14 medals — two gold, four silver and eight bronze — from the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand. The Indonesian Karate-do Federation (Forki) hopes this international exposure helps it win even more in Laos.
However, Indonesian competitors won just four bronze medals at the Asian Karatedo Federation Senior Championship in Guangdong, China, last month, and they managed only one bronze at this month’s Istanbul Open.
“That’s why we invited a Japanese coach, Sakura Inada, to train them before going to Laos,” Forki athletes’ development chief Madju Dharyanto Hutapea said on Wednesday. “We see that our karateka are still lacking discipline and fighting spirit. We hope a new coach will help us overcome these problems.”
Indonesia’s wushu squad left for the world championships in Toronto on Wednesday, hoping to better its two medals from the 2007 worlds. Gogi Nebulana won gold in men’s jian in 2007, and Heriyanto brought home silver in men’s nanquan.
Wushu was also good to Indonesia at the 2007 SEA Games. It won one gold and five bronzes in Thailand. Team manager Ngatino said all 16 athletes competing in Toronto will represent Indonesia in Laos.
The Indonesian Olympic Committee (KOI) announced on Wednesday it would send 341 athletes, 91 of whom will be funded by their respective sports federations, to the Laos Games.
That number is smaller than the 586 who attended the 2007 SEA Games. However, the 2009 contingent will be expected to bring home 58 gold medals, two more than 2007, when Indonesia finished fourth in the medal table.