JAKARTA (Reuters) - It is only the halfway stage of the Asian Games yet hosts Indonesia have already secured their best-ever showing after surpassing the 11 golds they won at their first home Games in 1962.
Rifki Ardiansyah Arrosyiid’s triumph in men’s 60kg Karate event earned them their 11th gold before Aqsa Sutan Aswar won the jetski event in endurance runabout as Indonesia inched closer to their 16-gold target.
Arrosyiid beat Iran’s Amir Mahdi Zadeh 9-7 in the final and the performance of the 20-year-old, who serves in the Indonesian army, made head coach Syamsuddin optimistic of their prospects when karate makes it Olympic debut in Tokyo in two years’ time.
“I’m very happy. It’s only the second day of the tournament and we already have a gold through Rifki,” Syamsuddin told Reuters.
Malaysian Prem Kumar Selvam and Uzbek Sadriddin Saymatov claimed the two bronzes.
Mohamad Hasan Basri’s 65kg victory in the 2002 Games was the last time Indonesia won Asian Games karate gold.
“I’m sure we’ll do well in the Olympics too. Indonesia has tremendous potential in karate,” Syamsuddin said.
“Karate is very popular here. It’s a big country, and the competition is intense at the school and university levels.”
Syamsuddin hoped the hosts would continue their good show on Monday when four more karate golds will be on offer.
“Last time Indonesia won a karate gold was in 2002. Now we have the first gold, and two bronze. We’re expecting more medals tomorrow.”
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in Jakarta; editing by Toby Davis