Musthofid, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
David Jacobs/Yon Mardiono salvaged Indonesia's otherwise complete embarrassment by winning a gold at the just concluded SEATTA table tennis championship, in which Singapore emerged almost invincible, winning five of seven golds.
The Indonesian pairing of David and Yon defeated Phucong Sanguansin/Phakphoom Sanguansin of Thailand 11-4, 11-4, 11-6 in the finals before 2,000 spectators packing the Pelita Harapan Sports Hall in Lippo Karawaci on Sunday.
Singapore won two gold medals on the same day -- in the women's singles and doubles - to claim five golds in all, following its triumph in both the men's and women's team events on Friday, and the mixed doubles on Saturday.
Li Jia We/Jing Jun Hong beat Indonesia's Fauziah Yulianti/Rossy Pratiwi Dipoyanti 11-5, 5-11, 11-6, 10-12, 11-9 in the women's doubles; while Zhang Xueling edged out Nanthana Komwong of Thailand 11-9, 11-8, 11-13, 7-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8.
On Saturday, Zhang Thai Yong/Jing Jun Hong overcame Cai Xiao Li/Zhang Xueling 11-4, 11-7, 7-11, 4-11, 12-10 in an all-Singaporean mixed doubles match.
A single-nation final match also occurred in the men's singles with Vietnamese Tran Tuan Quynh brushing aside compatriot Nguyen Nam Hai 11-4, 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6.
While tight matches abounded in the other ties, the men's doubles final was an unexpectedly easy business for the Indonesians, who needed only three sets to emerge victorious.
David could not hide his elation at contributing the only gold for Indonesia. ""We are relieved, as this is the only gold we could win. We took the initiative to launch an attack, and as soon as they returned the ball we swiftly followed with another attack. We were determined not to let ourselves be dominated,"" David said.
Yon said they had confounded their opponents' tactics by switching sides during the game. ""We were paired for the first time in this tournament, and are glad that we won,"" Yon said.
The victory brought relief among the team members as Indonesia has managed to maintain its gold tradition at the biennial tournament, which was introduced to the region only four years ago. At each of the previous tournaments, Indonesia had taken a gold.
""We achieved what we expected. We all know it is still difficult to equal Singapore,"" said Tahir, chairman of the Indonesian Table Tennis Association (PTMSI), after the match.
Fauziah Yulianti/Rossy Pratiwi came close to claiming the second gold for Indonesia when, after being tied 2-2, they held an 8-4 lead in the deciding set against Li Jia Wei and Jing Jun Hong in the finals.
However, the Singaporean pair, who were the gold medalists at the 2001 South East Asian (SEA) Games, showed their world class skill and sportsmanship to regroup, and cruised through to victory.
It has been decided that the next tournament, the 2004 SEATTA championship, will be hosted by Vietnam. PTMSI will face as difficult a task next year, when the 2003 SEA Games will take place, also in Vietnam.
""In preparation for the SEA Games, we are going to invite clubs early next year to work on our strategy,"" Tahir said. ""We have to prepare as early as possible,"" he added.