Spotlight on Indonesia
“I have a vision that Indonesia will be a major player in world cycling.”
The President of the Indonesian Cycling Federation Raja Sapta Oktohari has more than a few reasons to be optimistic about the future of the sport in his country.
First of all, in Rio last year, Indonesia was represented in BMX at the Olympic Games for the first time. Moving to para-cycling, four athletes are currently preparing for the 2018 Asian Games being hosted by their home country. And in the road discipline, Indonesia has six events registered on the UCI calendar in 2017, four of which are part of the prestigious UCI Asia Tour. In January 2018, the Tour of Indonesia will be relaunched and upgraded to Class 2.1 after a long hiatus.
“We started from something small and we’re on the right track,” says the Federation President, who was recently appointed Vice President of the Asian Cycling Confederation.
Cycling is gaining in popularity throughout the country, with spectators turning out in large numbers to watch the professional road races. Cycling for All is also taking off. This year for the first time, the Tour de Bintan joined the UCI Gran Fondo World Series. In its 7th year, the road race attracts more than 1100 cyclists from 45 countries across Asia. The best from the last edition qualified for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships which take place in Albi, France, from August 24 to 27.
BMX: first Olympic appearance for Indonesia
One of the leading lights of Indonesian cycling is Toni Syarifudin, who participated at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. His selection came after a concerted effort spanning several years to develop the discipline. Syarifudin was one of two Indonesian BMX athletes who trained regularly at the UCI World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, from 2011. In 2014, they were joined in Switzerland by coach Dadang Haries Poernomo, who completed a coaching internship at the UCI WCC. It was the start of a new impetus for BMX in Indonesia.
“They brought back experience and, most importantly, knowledge to the local BMX community,” explains Mr Oktohari.
At the head the Indonesian Federation’s BMX programme, Poernomo set up a long-term training programme for all age groups, shared his knowledge with other coaches, and worked on improving the quality of the country’s BMX tracks. He was instrumental in helping Syarifudin qualify for Rio 2016.
“That was huge for Indonesian BMX,” says Mr Oktohari. “After Rio, the ICF reviewed and improved its BMX programme in order to have more athletes for Tokyo 2020.”
BMX competitions for children aged 7 to 18 are becoming increasingly popular, and the Federation is using this discipline to build the country’s pool of talent. Junior BMX athlete Rio Akbar participated in a training camp at the UCI WCC at the end of 2016.
Para-cycling: Fadly paves the way
Para-cycling also has its local hero in Muhammad Fadly who, after just two months of training, represented Indonesia at the 2017 Asian Para-cycling Championships in Bahrain where he finished in 4th place in the 12.8km time trial.
The well-known former 600c Supersport rider had his leg amputated following a crash in 2015, and it was only at the end of 2016 that he first tried para-cycling. He is one of four para-cyclists currently preparing for the 2017 Southeast Asian Para Games in Malaysia next month and the 2018 Asian Para Games which will be held in their own country.
“His story is very inspiring and people can learn from it. He will be a great role model and ambassador for the sport.”
The President of the ICF has plenty of ideas and projects to take cycling in Indonesia to another level. To this end, Junior Women’s athlete Liontin Evangelina Setiawan has been selected for a training camp at the UCI WCC starting this month.
The trials discipline has recently been integrated into the Federation and a Commissiares course organised for the discipline.
Meanwhile, a new velodrome is under construction in preparation for the 2018 Asian Games.
“To improve athletes, coaches and Commissaires, we need to have good competitions and good venues. And it takes good organisation to manage them all,” concludes the Federation President.