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Jakarta Post

Asian Para Games: Unified Korea, record breaker highlights of swimming

  • Gemma Holliani Cahya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, October 13, 2018   /   11:19 am
Asian Para Games: Unified Korea, record breaker highlights of swimming Fatimakhon Amilova (INAPGOC/Hendra)

During the 2018 Asian Para Games, the Gelora Bung Karno Aquatic Center was one of the more popular venues, as it was always packed with supporters who brought energy — both at the venue and on social media.

On the last two days of swimming, the committee opened to all visitors the west and east stands, which were previously designated for athletes and officials.

Inspired by the sheer fight of the athletes, many who flocked to the center throughout the Para Games were emotional.

“I watched Para Swimming today, and I wanted to cry when I saw their determination. I don’t have any physical disabilities and I don’t think I could be that strong,” a netizen, Della Maulidia, tweeted via her account @MRF_Della28.

There were at least two historical moments that took place at the Aquatic Center.

For the first time in the history of para sports, South Korea and North Korea sent athletes to compete under one flag: the Unified Korea flag. They sent two teams, one in table tennis and another in swimming, where they won one bronze.

As a result, on Wednesday, for the first time at a para-sport event, the two countries stood together side by side to receive the bronze medal on a podium and under the same flag.

The team won the medal in the men’s 4 x 100-meter freestyle relay 34 points after clocking in at 4:24.95 on Monday.

People in the stadium, especially those who came to support the two countries, cheered loud when, during the medals ceremony, the team pointed their index fingers to the sky, shouting “One Korea” while a white flag with a picture of the entire Korea Peninsula in blue was raised, bringing a moment of unity to a region that has been divided since 1945.

History was also made elsewhere. Uzbekistan swimmer Fatimakhon Amilova broke two world records, one in the women’s 100 m SB13 breaststroke and one in the women’s 200 individual medley SM13 at the Aquatic Center.  

The facilities and swimming pools, three of which were for warm-up, were designed for the athletes’ easy access.

Volunteers were stationed throughout the center to assist athletes when needed.

In total, there were 253 para swimmers from 28 countries who competed for 106 medals. 

Japan won the most medals with 80, including 23 gold, while China won the most golds, with 39 out of its 75 medals in swimming. With 34 medals, 15 of which were gold, Uzbekistan finished third in the medal tally for the sport.

“We are really satisfied with the events. We only had less than a month to prepare everything after the Asian Games but thank God everything went well,” Fajar Vidya, the chief executive of para swimming events at the 2018 Asian Para Games, told The Jakarta Post on Friday. 

Fajar said he hoped Indonesia would be ready to host other big para swimming events. 

“We already gained invaluable experience in holding this kind of multisport event. I hope in the future it will be motivation for us to hold another bigger para swimming event,” he said.