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Jakarta Post

Indonesian BMX rider battles injury to keep Olympic dream alive

  • Ramadani Saputra
    Ramadani Saputra

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, February 18, 2020   /   12:00 pm
Indonesian BMX rider battles injury to keep Olympic dream alive BMX rider I Gusti Bagus Saputra (left) leads the race during the men's elite final at the 2020 National Championship at the Jakarta International BMX Track in Pulo Mas, East Jakarta, on Feb. 14. (JP/Ramadani Saputra)

For an athlete, getting a chance to compete in a world-class sporting event such as the Olympic Games is a dream come true. To realize the dream, many are willing to sacrifice everything, as it is an opportunity of a lifetime.

BMX rider I Gusti Bagus Saputra’s desire to compete in the Tokyo Olympics in July and August is huge. Bagus is willing to go the extra mile, including by battling with physical pain since early February.

Bagus sustained an injury to his right ankle after falling during a practice session at the BMX Supercross World Cup in Shepparton, Australia, on Feb. 1 to 2. The injury prevented him from being able to give his best, as he finished in 117thplace among 135 riders competing in the tournament.

With the pain that lingers on his right foot, the rider forced himself to compete at the 2020 National Championship on Friday

 “My coaches didn’t let me play. And the doctor agreed. But I felt like I really needed to compete I told them that I [just] needed something to minimize the pain,” he told journalists in Jakarta.

“During practice, I already felt the pain. I consulted with the doctor again, asking him to give a strong painkiller, and he gave me medicine that was safe to take,” he added.

What Bagus did might sound unreasonable for some as it could lead to much worse injury but the rider knows that the points offered in the championship would increase his individual points and that of the country for Olympic qualification.

Bagus, who hails from West Nusa Tenggara, surprisingly finished first in the final held at the Jakarta International BMX Track in Pulo Mas, East Jakarta, advancing Toni Syarifudin, a Rio Olympics participant, who finished second.

“I’m very grateful for winning, despite my body not being 100 percent fit. I fell during the Australian event. The doctor [told me] that there was [a possibility] of a tear in the muscle,” he said after winning the championship.

“But I told the doctor that I was determined to win the competition to collect more points for the Olympic qualification.”

After finishing Friday’s race, Bagus did look like he was in pain, as he was limping. 

“My muscles are in good condition but I still need to undergo thorough examination. If in one week I still feel the pain, [the doctor] told me that I would need to see a physiotherapist [immediately],” the 27-year-old athlete said, while pointing at his bruised right ankle.

“I will keep trying to do my best. If I can still take part in [future] competitions, I will try my best,” he added.   

Bagus, who won silver at the 2018 Asian Games, is the country’s highest ranking BMX rider, ranked the world’s number 48 rider, trailed by Rio Akbar at 56th position.

Indonesia aims to send one representative in the men’s elite category of BMX racing to the Tokyo Olympics. According to rules, a country can send a rider to Tokyo if it stands in sixth to 11th place in the world rankings as of June 2 when the qualification period closes. As of February, Indonesia is still crawling at world number 19.

According to the national cycling team’s physician, Andika Respati, Bagus might have a problem in his ligament, as it might be torn, as well as in his tendon.

“After we conducted an X-ray, Alhamdulillah [praise God] there was no problem with his bone. A condition like that endured by Bagus might need four to six weeks to recover but it depends on the therapy program. We will be selective in choosing [future] tournaments for Bagus,” he said, referring to the level of prestige of the tournaments.

“The recovery would also depend on how obedient Bagus is in following the therapy program designed for him,” he added.

Meanwhile, national team coach Dadang Haries Poernomo said the team was scheduled to compete in six tournaments during the qualification period, including Banyuwangi International BMX in East Java and Asian BMX Championship in Jakarta. Both aforementioned tournaments will be held in April.

“Later, we will evaluate which riders had the best results. We all agreed that we will send the top representative [to Tokyo],” he said.