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            [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_219150" align="aligncenter" width="614"]Radja Nasution during a training session at Gelora Bung Karno Aquatic Stadium. (JG Photo / Ami Afriatni) Radja Nasution leads a training session at Gelora Bung Karno Aquatic Stadium in Jakarta. (JG Photo/Ami Afriatni)[/caption]

Radja Murnisal Nasution watched over his swimmers as they practiced at Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno Aquatic Stadium one afternoon. After swimming a few laps, the youngsters stopped, caught their breath and waited for more instructions from their coach.

“When you move your feet, remember to follow the count: one, two, three, four. Do it like you’re singing in the water. Keep that in mind,” the 64-year-old told his team.

This afternoon was like countless others for Radja: the rest of his day was spent watching over the young people that make up his Pari Sakti swimming club. Established in 1996, the team counts 150 members among its ranks.

But something changed last year for the seasoned coach: his vantage point. After being diagnosed with diabetes in 2008, doctors were forced to remove his right foot and three toes from his left foot. Radja has been bound to a wheelchair ever since.

“I was so devastated after the amputations. I thought that maybe it would be time for me to leave the swimming world behind, the world I had been living in for the past three decades,” he told the Jakarta Globe.

He underwent his first operation several weeks prior to the 2008 National Games in East Kalimantan, where he helped prepare the Jakarta squad for the event. After an intensive treatment regimen and a hasty recovery, Radja managed to resume his coaching of Pari Sakti.

Four years later, however, Radja cut one of his right toes very badly. Due to his condition, the wound did not heal correctly, and he was hospitalized before doctors advised him to amputate his whole right foot.

Just as he had done before, Radja swiftly returned to his club again, though this time, he wasn’t able to stand.

“God has given me a longer life for one reason: to train these kids. He gives me more time to dedicate to swimming,” he said. “I have to be strong because that’s what I want to see from them. I have to be strong for them.

“It was not easy to train them while struggling with diabetes. However, it’s under control now, thank God.”

Radja has taken a step back with Pari Sakti, though: knowing that he cannot handle both the training and managerial aspects of the team, he has delegated the managerial duties to his son Muhammad Akbar Nasution, a SEA Games multimedalist and former Olympian.

“I feel good and challenged. But it was not easy to do at first,” Akbar admitted. “We can’t resist adjusting, and I hope that the club can spawn more national swimmers in the future by employing more modern coaching techniques,” the 30-year-old said.

Akbar praised his father for his guidance. “He’s stubborn, high-disciplined, an idealist and a fighter. He’s my mentor. He made me the person I am now. I’m so proud of him.”

Radja aired hope that Indonesia could regain its former swimming glory and succeed as it did in the 1980s and 1990s.

“I want to see more of them dominate not only the regional Games, but also the Asian Games. I can see we are headed in the right direction with our young swimmers given recent achievements at the Asian Games,” he said, referring to Ricky Anggawidjaja, who captured a gold medal at the Asian Youth Games in August.

“Hopefully, I still can still give a little contribution to the country while I’m still alive.”

 
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