RI’s track-and-field
youth athletes fail in
key qualifier

With Indonesia’s athletes returning home empty handed from the recent Asia qualification round for the upcoming Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, the government is being asked to provide more long-term training for youth athletes who plan to compete internationally.

The Indonesian Track and Field Association (PASI) sent four youth athletes to Singapore’s Asian Area Qualification Championships from May 22-23 in the hope of bringing home tickets for the Youth Olympic Games in August.

However, all of them failed to finish in the top three in their respective events, meaning they did not qualify for the inaugural Youth Olympics, which will run from Aug. 14-26.

The four athletes are boy’s 100-meter sprinter Sapwaturrahman, boys’ 110-meter hurdler Hamdan Maasi, boys’ 1000-meter runner Arif Rahman and girls' long jumper Fitria Indah Wahyuni.

Long jumper Fitria finished ahead of her compatriots, earning a fourth-place finish with a jump of 5.44 meters. She trailed Japan's Yuka Takahashi (6.02 meters) who came first, and Pennapa Tantragool of Thailand (5.56 meters) and Wu Meng-Chia of Taiwan (5.54 meters).

Arif and Hamdan both finished second from bottom in the 1000-meter and 110-meter hurdles finals.

Arif finished the 1000-meter race in 2:40.13, much slower than the event’s winner, Hamza Driouch from Qatar (2:22.97), and runner up Koki Takada of Japan (2:29.05). Malaysian hurdler Mohd Ajmal Mat Hasan booked a spot at the Olympics by finishing runner up in the 110-meter hurdles in a time of 13.78. Hamdan ran a 14.73 to finish seven out of eight.

Sixteen-year-old sprinter Sapwaturrahman, who clocked an 11.01 to collect gold medal in the 100-meter dash at the youth national championships earlier this month, could only reach the semifinals, finishing 10th place among her Asian competitors with a time of 11.05 seconds.

Sprint coach Subagio criticized on Wednesday a lack of sustainable long-term training camps for youth athletes hoping to compete at prestigious international events.

“Other countries, such as Thailand, launched their own centralized training camp to prepare for the Youth Olympics four years ago. What about our country? The government, or the KONI [National Sports Council], only started funding the centralized camp one or two months prior to departure.”

“That kind of preparation is simply not enough,” Subagio said.

“We need a long-term training camp for these youth athletes, as they are the next generation for the national squad. The government cannot merely depend on sports associations and clubs to develop these young athletes.”

Despite failing to qualify, Indonesia still has a quota of two athletes to be sent off to the Olympics, although judging from the qualifying results, Subagio said, they would have a hard time competing with the bests there.

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