West Java dominates pool, but for how long?
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The swimming competition ended on Friday night with West Java almost unchallenged bringing home 22 of the 32 gold medals on offer at the National Games (PON) 2012.
During the five days of races at the Rumbai Aquatic Center in Pekanbaru, as many as 22 new Games records were set, 12 of which were by West Javanese swimmers.
They launched their last onslaught on the opposition by splashing home five of six gold medals on offer on Friday. One was grabbed in the men’s 4x100 relay, in which they beat East Java and Riau into second and third places respectively.
West Java coach Nizarudin attributed his swimmers’ success to a long-term training program.
“Our swimmers only took a break of some 10 days after the 2008 Games [in East Kalimantan] before returning to the training camp for these Games,” he told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.
“Some of our athletes who won gold medals this time are those who only took bronzes in East Kalimantan, like Triadi Fauzi.”
West Java deployed 16 swimmers, which was the same number of squad members as rivals Jakarta but the latter participated in 30 of 32 swimming events.
Jakarta coach and former national swimmer Felix Sutanto admitted West Java’s swimmers had been better prepared than his athletes.
“I was asked by Jakarta sports board to coach the swimmers only two years ago,” he said, acknowledging that their athletes were statistically rated second to their neighbors. His swimmers returned home without golds, snatching only less glittering medals.
The dismal showing at the current Games has shown a drastic decline compared to the 2000 Games in East Java where their predecessors grabbed more than 20 gold medals in 32 events while their West Java rivals picked up only one bronze.
The gold haul dwindled to 10, four years later in South Sumatra, and only one in East Kalimantan.
By contrast, West Java swimmers have shown improvement by winning three golds in 2004, eight in 2008 before surging unchallenged in 2012.
Felix blamed the poor showing on lack of regeneration.
“In the early 2000s, Jakarta prioritized only senior athletes without giving a chance to young swimmers to develop,” he said.
He said they had reason to expect much in the future given the current lineup mostly made up of young guns.
“We have more young athletes taking part in Riau. Speaking about age, West Java will need a longer time to develop their athletes for the next tournaments. I’m optimistic we can take over the title in 2016 [in West Java].”
Meanwhile, the host’s failure to meet the challenge in the men’s 4x100 meters on Friday left backstroke specialist and Indonesia’s sole swimmer at the London Olympics I Gede Siman Sudartawa with a collection of only two golds, one silver and three bronze medals in the six events he participated in.
His participation in the ongoing Games has seen a switch from his former team Bali.
He is not ruling out the possibility of competing for another team in future Games, pending Riau’s willingness to extend his contract. He said he had got an offer from South Sumatra for the 2016 Games.
— JP/Mustaqim Adamrah