The Jakarta Post
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo gave his blessing to members of Team Indonesia in a send-off ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday, wishing them all the best ahead of the Asian Games.
In front of hundreds of athletes, Jokowi said he was excited to meet them in person before they took part in the Games, which will be held in Jakarta and Palembang, South Sumatra.
“You are the country’s best athletes who will fight on behalf of 263 million Indonesians. I am aware that all of you have worked hard [for the Games], and I am optimistic that the long preparation will earn us many gold medals.
“We have set a top-10 finish as our main target, meaning that we have to win at least 16 gold medals. Win more medals, and no less,” said the President.
Jokowi added that he had witnessed the athletes training at their respective camps in pencak silat martial arts, jet skiing, skateboarding and rowing. Acknowledging their hard work during the training sessions, Jokowi was certain that Indonesia would do well in the quadrennial event.
The President said the team would get the full support of the whole nation. “Uphold fair play, and best of luck to you all,” he added.
Indonesia will deploy 1,383 members of Team Indonesia, which consists of 983 athletes and 365 officials. The athletes will compete for 465 gold medals that are up for grabs in 40 sports.
“[We are targeting] 16 to 17 gold medals. Team Indonesia is ready to achieve it,” said Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Puan Maharani who also attended the ceremony.
The Games will officially run from Aug. 18 to Sept. 2. However, soccer matches will start on Friday afternoon, with Laos taking on Hong Kong in the opener at the Patriot Candrabaga Stadium in Bekasi, West Java.
The Indonesian national soccer team will play its first match on Sunday evening against Taiwan at the same stadium.
In the meantime, Indonesia’s youngest athlete, Aliqqa Novvery, said she had been training for the Games for two months.
“On a daily basis, I train every morning and afternoon. I take good care of myself with good rest and proper food, so I will be fit [during the competition],” said the 9-year-old skateboarder on the sidelines of the ceremony at the palace.
Aliqqa, who has been skateboarding for two years, said her toughest rivals would be the athletes from Japan.
Jefri Abel, the deputy chief of the Indonesian Roller Sports Association (Perserosi), said Aliqqa earned a spot in the national team after smoothly passing two qualifying phases during selection.
“She showed significant progress during the selection process. [Aliqqa] is indeed one of the favorites in the squad. She might be young, but she is a strong-willed athlete, so we hope we can get a medal from her,” he added.
Jefri said Japan was indeed Indonesia’s main rival. However, his squad has world number three Sanggoe Dharma Tanjung, who is 16, in it.
Sanggoe is a Balinese skateboarder who made a name for himself when he won a bronze medal at the age of 13 while competing at the Kia World Extreme Games in Shanghai, China, in 2015. He hit the headlines again a year later in the same city when he placed second in the Street category at the first official Asian Skateboarding Championship.