Indonesian Youngsters Spur Surprising Turnarounds in Aquatics, Athletics

Indonesian Youngsters Spur Surprising Turnarounds in Aquatics, Athletics
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I Gede Siman Sudartawa’s victory in the men’s 50-meter backstroke on Wednesday gave him a one-man sweep of the discipline. The 17-year-old’s win was one of a handful of surprising performances by Indonesian athletes in the Southeast Asian Games, raising hopes for the future as the country looks to expand its medal-winning prowess beyond badminton and niche sports. Siman won the 50 in 25.62 seconds, with teammate Glenn Victory 0.4 seconds back in second. The gold medal was his third of the Games, having also won the 200-meter backstroke on Monday and the 100-meter event on Tuesday and set a new Games record in the 100. He became the second Indonesian swimmer to set a new Games record. Yessy Yosaputra, who is also 17 and Siman’s girlfriend, did likewise in the women’s 200-meter backstroke on Sunday. Siman and Yessy are part of the country’s next generation in Olympic sports. Indonesian swimmers and divers had combined to win just two gold medals in the previous three Games. “All has been going well for us so far, but we still need more medals to finish the Games on top,” said Andi Mallarangeng, the minister of youth and sports affairs. “The progress in athletics and swimming have exceeded our expectations, and we want to improve on this in the future.” Indonesia has earned six golds in swimming and diving this year, including one from men’s 10-meter synchronized platform divers Muhammad Nasrullah and Luthfi Niko Abdill. Athletics has also enjoyed a surprise boost. Going into the Games, the Indonesian Athletics Association (PASI) only wanted its athletes to match the seven golds earned at the 2009 Games in Laos, given the number of youngsters in its squad, but the host nation finished with 13 after Wednesday’s final events. Long-distance runner Triyaningsih added the women’s marathon gold to her victories in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. Indonesia tops the table with 87 golds and 222 medals overall. Vietnam is second with 54 golds, two ahead of Thailand. News source: The Jakarta Globe

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