The 26-year-old athlete is the captain of Indonesia National Taekwondo Team and representing Indonesia in the first ever competition of Taekwondo Poomsae at this year’s Asian Games. We sat down with the West-Java native to talk about martial arts, a day in the life of an athlete, victories and losses.

Text by: Lala Claudia. Photographs by Ila Schaffer.

How did you started being a taekwondo athlete?
It all started in 1999, when I was 9 years old because a relative encouraged me. Then I got to SKO Ragunan (Ragunan Sports School) where I became more serious about it. I started with sparring, which led to an injury. I stopped doing it for a while but then got into poomsae (forms) instead. I got into PELATNAS (National Training Center) in 2010, and that continues until now.

What is a typical day in the life of a taekwondo athlete?
Waking up at 6 am. First practice of the day starts at 8am, then ends at 10 am. I rest then have my lunch. The practice again at 2.30 pm for a couple of hours. Rest, then dinner. And start practicing again at 8 pm. So daily, we practice 7 to 8 hours a day. It basically is sleep, practice, eat, rest, and repeat.

What has been your biggest motivation?
Making my family proud. Also my friends and everyone around me. They’ve been very supportive and I don’t want to disappoint them.

What are the principles of taekwondo that you apply to your daily life?
It’s got to be respect and discipline. Respecting other people is the main thing you’ll learn from the sport.

What’s the best moment you’ve had so far as an athlete?
Of course waving the Indonesian flag whenever we won, with ‘Indonesia Raya’ blasting in the background. It always has been a super-epic moment. And recently when I won gold at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games at Ashgabat, Turkmenistan last year, because just before that I won Silver at the 2017 SEA Games. So I guess it’s kind of a redemption moment for me.

How do you prepare for Asian Games, now that it’s just around the corner?
Well, we practice consistently whether there’s a tournament or not, difference is we increase the intensity of the training while avoiding ourselves from any injury. Anyway, this is going to be a historical moment, since it’s the first time ever that Taekwondo Poomsae is being competed at the Asian Games.

Since it’s also the month of Indonesia’s Independence, what are your hopes for it?
I wish that people realize how athletes work hard behind the scene before they compete. How their victories and losses are preceded by their dedication and discipline. And that losing is not a failure, it’s just part of the process of getting better. Hopefully Indonesia’s athletes will flourish, and that their victory will be a gift to the country.

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