Zakki Hakim, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Eight Indonesia athletes will be traveling to the upcoming Asian Karate Federation Championships, while the national karate-do association, Forki, has set itself far-reaching goals for the 2006 Asian Games.
The Asian federation championships are scheduled to be staged in Chinese Taipei from Feb. 3 to Feb. 9.
Forki secretary-general Hendardji Supandji refused to comment on medal targets, saying instead that the sending of the team was part of a long-term development program.
""Our target is the long-term development for our athletes. And we might as well try to find out the current strength of Asian karate, which will be of help in our preparations for the 2006 Asian Games,"" Hendardji said after a meeting.
Forki disclosed that it would be looking for between one and two gold medals at the Asian Games, which will be staged in Qatar.
For the Chinese Taipei event, Forki is going to call up twelve athletes -- eight men and four women, who will attend a two-week training camp in Jakarta starting next week.
Later this figure will be whittled down to eight, comprising five men and three women.
""We are prioritizing those who won medals in Vietnam as well as those who are under 25 years of age,"" said Forki chairman Luhut Panjaitan.
Vietnam was the host country for the recently-concluded Southeast Asian (SEA) Games from where the Indonesian karate squad brought home four gold, five silver and seven bronze medals.
The 12 candidates, whom Luhut admitted had not yet been informed about the call-up, are 18-year-old Syarif, I Nyoman Sumayasa, Umar Syarif, Bambang Maulidin, Christo Mandolu, I Ketut Murti, Rizky Syahbana and Donny Dharmawan in the men's category, and Jenny Zeannet, Telly Melinda, Puspa Meonk and Beatris Payung in the women's.
Umar Syarif, Bambang Maulidin and Jenny Zeannet were SEAG gold medalists while young Syarif won a silver medal at last year's World Karate Championships in France.
Commenting on the inclusion of Umar Syarif, who is 27, Hendardji said he believed that the veteran athlete would still be able to do well in the years to come.