Some of the children found joy while discovering a new sport, while others first hated it before deciding to conquer their fears. A few grew up around it and thus love came naturally; a few more found their innate talent at it while on a quest to a better life. Fast-forward to barely two decades later and these children have grown to be the champions who will hopefully bring Indonesia to golden moments at the Asian Games 2018, which kick off on August 18 in Jakarta and Palembang.
Moreover, six of these athletes were appointed as Ambassadors of the Indonesian team, including Pungky Afrecia and Raphael Maitimo. As players for the volleyball and soccer teams, respectively, both shared the same proud feeling upon being called. “I want to spread the cheer of the Games to the people and, hopefully, they will learn and love the different sports and athletes,” Pungky said. The Ambassadors promote the Games through social media, workshops, and other events by sponsors approved by the organising committee, INASGOC, to prepare programmes and benefits for the athletes and public.
AXA Mandiri Financial Services, for instance, provides insurance coverage to athletes playing in the Games; on the other hand, Unilever’s Wall’s has coaching clinics lined up at elementary schools. “There, we share each of our own experiences in working hard and preparing for the Games, including the right mentality to achieve success,” said Raphael. Hard at work on both topics despite a tight schedule is another Ambassador and small-forward, Arki Wisnu, who co-captains the national basketball team.
“The Asian Games are a big event that’s at a different level compared with the SEA Games, which is why it’s important to be prepared both physically and mentally, and to stay focused in finding and executing our advantages,” Arki said. To this strategy, Eko Yuli, an Ambassador from the weightlifting team, added in agreement that focusing on the target and motivating to improve oneself are the ways to go.
Diananda Choirunisa, the archery team’s Ambassador, rewards herself with recovery sessions and motivates with mental visualisation before bedtimes. “You are never a loser until you quit trying,” Siman Sudartawa, of the swimming team, chimed in—followed by heads nodding in agreement all around. Another challenge is to overcome their own selves, which is why Arki trains every day with a competitive mindset and Eko does game simulations and progress tests once every three weeks, while Diananda and Siman are joining many competitions to prime themselves.
[Photographer: The Leonardi, Make-up: Bubah Alfian, Stylist: Alva Susilo]
This story appears in the August 2018 issue of Indonesia Tatler. For the full story, grab the copy at your nearest newsstands, or subscribe here.