The Jakarta Post
Indonesia created history again on Monday as Puspa Arumsari achieved a score of 467 to win the first pencak silat gold in the Asian Games, the biggest multisport event in the region.
The 25-year-old said years of preparation and endless support from the home crowd during the competition had motivated her. Pencak silat is a medal event for the first time in the Asian Games, which runs from Aug. 18 to Sunday in Jakarta and Palembang.
“I had prepared for three to four years for this moment, and it was show time. You cannot say no to the gold medal target,” said Puspa after the medal ceremony in the women’s seni (artistic) event.
“This is my highest achievement of all; I am very proud of it. I hope pencak silat can make it to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, at least as a demonstration sport,” she added.
Puspa started her journey in the sport when she was in elementary school after her brother, a pencak silat coach in Depok, West Java, invited her to join a training session. Not long after, Puspa began to participate in competitions, from local championships up to the National Games (PON).
After making progress at the national level, Puspa, who studied graphic design in university, snatched a gold medal in the seni category at the 2016 World Championships in Bali, and later she nailed a bronze medal at the Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 2017.
“I built my base both in seni and tanding [fighting] categories. However, I chose to focus on seni when I was in high school because the category has a bigger chance to win medals,” said Puspa.
The golden result in the 18th Games was proof that she had made a good decision. In her solid performances, Puspa outshined other competitors from Thailand, Singapore and Brunei.
Puspa, who is called Dara by her family and friends, scored 465, or six points, ahead of Thailand’s Salini Mamu, making her the leader of group B.
Meanwhile, her toughest opponent in the final, Tunee Vilaysack from Laos, scored 455 to defeat contestants from Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia in group A.
In the finals, Puspa mesmerized the public with her performance using two weapons: a golok (machete) and a rattan stick. Clad in a red batik and a headband, she opened the outing with big smile to the five jurors before changing to a fierce look for her routine.
The excited home crowd cheered her every move at the Pencak Silat Hall in Taman Mini Indonesia in East Jakarta, boosting Puspa’s confidence that led to the 465 in score in the preliminary round. Puspa’s rival, Nurzuhairah Mohammad of Singapore, produced 445 points, earning her a silver medal. Cherry May Regalado of the Philippines ( 444 ) grabbed the bronze.
“My personal target is 468 points, but I am grateful with 467. However, I will try to reach the target in the upcoming competition,” said Puspa.
Puspa’s and the rest of the Indonesian fighters’ success in the pencak silat event brought joy to spectators, including Hanny Fitriani, 42, who came all the way from Bandung, West Java.
Hanny said Puspa’s gold had motivated her daughter to do well in the sport.
“I’ve been watching Puspa in action since two years ago on a streaming service. Today, I had the opportunity to watch her live,” Hanny told The Jakarta Post.
Puspa contributed a gold from a total of eight golds in the Monday event, surpassing Indonesia’s initial target of four golds.