TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Not once, has Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi, 45, missed attending the 2018 Asian Games competitions since the continental sporting event kicked off on August 18. The Madura-born minister hopped from one arena to the next to give moral support to the athletes.
Imam has devoted his time and attention to closely following the athletes since the start of the national training camp. "We shouldn’t let them feel that they were left on their own to train," he said last week. He believed that in fact, that was one of the keys to Indonesia’s achievement in the event. Indonesia ranked fourth after having snatched 31 golds although the target was to be in the top 10 with 16 golds.
But, the politician from the National Awakening Party said he was not surprised by the home contingent’s success. He, in fact, has a different target following the meeting between his ministry and sports organizations early July, after the closing of the registration, where they carried out performance simulations for each sport branch based on the strength of opponents. From the meeting, they came up with the target of 34 golds for Indonesia. "I’ve never revealed this before," he said.
Imam will make sure the bonuses will be doled out at the soonest. Single gold winners are poised to get Rp1.5 billion, silver Rp500 million and bronze Rp250 million. For the double category, gold winners receive Rp1 billion, silver Rp400 million and bronze Rp200 million. Meanwhile, for the team category, gold medals earn Rp750 million, silver Rp300 million and bronze Rp150 million. "It’s important that the athletes understand financial management to be (financially be productive). Perhaps they can use it for business, etc.," Imam said.
Until the event is over, 24 hours seems not enough for Imam. Last Thursday, after watching a rugby match at the Bung Karno Stadium and giving briefing for the Cibubur Youth Festival which was wrapping up around midnight that night, Imam sat down with Tempo’s Jobpie Sugiharto, Reza Maulana, Angelina Anjar and Egi Adyatama for a special interview at his official residence in Widya Chandra Ministers’ Complex, Jakarta. For the photo session that took place in the wee hours of Friday, Imam chose a hat he bought from a hawker at his office mosque.
Indonesia ranks fourth with 31 golds. Have you ever imagined it?
(Laugh)… yes, I did.
You did imagine Indonesia in the top four?
I’ve never disclosed this before. After the registration closed, I invited all the sports organizations for setting targets. By looking at the registration entry by name, we knew our opponents from other countries and their contest numbers. That time, I promised to announce it (the target) but, for the sake of strategy, I decided not to.
What was the real target?
The total target by the organizations is 34 golds, 27 silvers and 47 bronzes. Not far from the actual achievement. Previously, we took the lowest from the maximum target, that is 50 percent for 16 golds.
Did the athletes know about this target?
I think the sport branch administrators already informed them.
Pencak silat grabbed 14, the highest number of gold medals. Was the real target this high?
No. But, to compensate for others, we needed those 14 medals.
To compensate for missed targets?
Yes. Jet ski targeted three but got only one. Archery didn’t get one it aimed to get. Likewise, swimming which targeted one but got none. On the other hand, some branches exceeded targets. Wall-climbing seized three against the target of two. Also, Tennis which performed beyond expectation garnering gold even though they only targeted one bronze. So, these targets are like my account receivables to check how many have been achieved or missed.
How were the targets set?
We have a map. We synchronized and then calculated the targets. We even calculated if a given target already included the athletes’ performance during overseas trials. For instance, we were confident that badminton players for men’s doubles Marcus Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya would win gold because they had previously won A, B, C and so on. Also, we predicted gold for wall-climbing athlete Aries Susanti Rahayu given her status as the world champion in China and the runner-up in Russia. But, there were also athletes from other branches whom we were confident of grabbing golds although they had never competed before.
What branches are these?
Kurash, sambo and kabaddi. So, we sorted the branches into those that will surely nail golds, those that will only help increase the rank, those that will only break the national records, those that are hopeful and those that will surprise us.
Football that failed to achieve the target was a surprise?
The target for football was changing all the time. From the top four at the start to the top eight and then to ‘We will give a surprise’. The surprise turned out to be the double penalties given to UAE in the game against our team. Actually, our team played well. The problem solely came from the 12th player: the referee. So, it really was a surprise after all (laughing).
With so many non-technical factors that emerged, how did our contingent win so many medals?
After the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, we immediately requested the national training to prepare for the Asian Games. So, there was no rest period. We also again pushed all branch organizations to be independent and seek sponsors. Then we changed the budgeting policy to meet athletes’ needs. Previously, the training funds were given at the end of the month but now we give at the beginning. I involved former Olympic athletes to motive them. I even set a resolution for 2018 to work out of the national training camp. I went around different branches to be with athletes. We shouldn’t let them feel that they were left on their own to train. By being with them, I could also check if their needs have been fulfilled.
Did bad results from the Kuala Lumpur SEA games have impact?
Yes. We are longing for success. The athletes use the experience in the Kuala Lumpur SEA games as a catalyst to prove their abilities.
Read the full interview in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine