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Jakarta Post

Blitar students brave virus fears to win Malaysia robotics championship

  • Asip Hasani

    The Jakarta Post

Blitar   /   Wed, February 12, 2020   /   02:45 pm
Blitar students brave virus fears to win Malaysia robotics championship The winning robotics team of Pondok Pesantren Mambaus Solihin ride a jeep during their victory parade on Feb. 12, 2020 through Sumber village of Ponggok district, just north of Blitar, East Java. The student team came home as the overall champions of the World Robotic for Peace (WRP) 2020 held on Feb. 7-8 in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. (JP/Asip Hasani)

A team of 12 junior high school students from an Islamic boarding school in Blitar, East Java, has brought home three gold and two silver medals to become the overall champions of the World Robotic for Peace (WRP) 2020 in Malaysia last weekend.

The team from Pondok Pesantren Mambaus Solihin came first in three categories and were runner-ups in two others out of seven categories in the competition, held by the International Robotic Training and Competition (IRTC) on Feb. 7-8 at the University Teknologi Malaysia in Johor Bahru.

The Indonesian team competed against students from nine other countries, including Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Mambaus Solihin team coach Yasroni Indralogi, who accompanied the team, said that one gold medal was won in the "Maze Solving" category, which required participants to steer their robots through certain routes and scored them on accuracy.

The team had risked traveling to Johor Bahru to take part in the tournament amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has infected at least 18 people in Malaysia to date.

"The invitation was sent to us on Oct. 26 last year. The team members had been preparing for the event since early November," Yasroni told the press on Tuesday. 

"We initially considered canceling our participation due to the coronavirus outbreak, but then decided to [go ahead]," said Yasroni. He said the school had canceled their plan to participate in a similar, earlier event in Singapore. 

The island nation has almost 30 confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV.

Yasroni called their trip to Malaysia "tiresome", with their original flight from Surabaya's Juanda airport canceled five times. In the end, the team flew to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and then to Johor Bahru on Feb. 6.

Their return flight from Johor Bahru to Soekarno-Hatta Airport was also canceled three times before the team could finally fly home on Tuesday. 

"Now, after we have [returned], we have been told to stay at home and check our temperature for the next 14 days," Yasroni added.

Winning the WRP 2020 is not a first for Pondok Pesantren Mambaus Solihin, which has 1,300 junior and senior high students and is located in Sumber village of Ponggok subdistrict, some 10 kilometers north of Blitar.

The school's team also won several medals at the Osaka Robotic Games 2017 in Japan. The following year, the school won at another robotics competition in Malaysia.

"We have an extracurricular robotics class here," said Yasroni. (gis)