At one corner of the Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium, Rasyidi Rasyidi was getting ready to return to the Athletes’ Games Village after winning the gold in men’s 200m T44 sprint event. He had two more events to compete so was focused to get there as early as possible. Rasyidi wasn’t happy about his time (25.40 seconds) early in the day and anxiously waited for his next events (100m and long jump) at the week-long Indonesia Para Games Invitational Tournament, which served as the test events for the 3rd Asian Para Games this October in Jakarta.
“The 200m were tough but I like the track here. It is in good condition and much like the ones in Beijing and Qatar,” said Rasyidi in his local language as a volunteer quickly translated for us. The 31-year-old local para athlete had claimed two golds at the China Open Athletics Championships held in Beijing, in May.
Much like his fellow athletes, Rashyidi has been undergoing training for the Asian Para Games since this January and believes that the Games are important for the entire para sport fraternity in the country. “It’s time to make Indonesia proud through our performances. The government’s support towards para sport has also become fair. Now people know more about para sport here,” he added with hope of winning a medal at the October 6 to 13 Games.
While athletes and coaches sounded positive about the infrastructure, spectators—almost 2,000 school students filled up the stands—were happy to witness some action.
A total of 369 athletes competed in five para sports—table-tennis, swimming, athletics, badminton and wheelchair basketbal during the June 27 to July 3 invitational tournament, that mostly featured Indonesian athletes from several provinces with the prime focus of testing of venues, infrastructure, facilities and human resources.
The wheelchair basketball event, which had teams from Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia competing, attracted a sizeable crowd as did para-badminton. Meanwhile, the para table tennis event, which served as the qualifying event for the Asian Para Games and Tokyo Paralympics, had the maximum number of participants with 141 paddlers from 13 countries. Thus, there was a lot of buzz at the table tennis arena with technical officials, coaches, referees and volunteers ensuring the smooth conduct of the events.
Asian Paralympic Committee president Mr. Majid Rashed congratulated the para badminton medallists and said, “You can create a legacy for para sport in Indonesia. I wish you good luck. Prepare well and bring glory to your nation.”
Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games Organising Committee (INAPGOC) president Mr. Raja Sapta Oktohari thanked the Asian Paralympic Committee and the government for their support and said: “We have come this far with all your support. I know we still need to improve in many things. But we promise to deliver one of the best ever Games. We have three areas of focus—sports, Games Village and transportation. So special buses are being deputed, ramps and elevators are being built to create a friendly environment for the athletes with impairments.”
Gatot Dewa Broto, Secretary of the Indonesian Ministry of Youth and Sports, insisted that arrangements are been done keeping in mind the higher standard of accessibility and mobility. He also said that special measures will be taken to ease the traffic during the Games.
Elsewhere, the media coming to cover the Games could also spend some time away from their busy schedule relaxing at the Massage Room (performed by blind therapists) and in a PlayStation Room specially developed for them at the Main Press Centre.
This October, around 3,000 athletes are expected to battle it out for the coveted medals in 18 sports and as many as 8000 volunteers will be deputed during the Games.
The event will the third edition of the Asian Para Games and will build on the legacy of 2014 Incheon and 2010 Guangzhou.