Tiara Andini Prastika. (Photo courtesy of Tiara)

Indonesia Eyes Gold With Asia's Best Downhill Cyclist Tiara Prastika


AUGUST 11, 2018

Jakarta. Tiara Andini Prastika of Indonesia's women's downhill team is expected to win in the upcoming Asian Games.

Tiara is one of the five mountain bike cyclists who are intensively training in Subang, West Java, where the Games' downhill event will take place in late August.

She is one of the most promising athletes to win a medal, according to the Indonesian Cycling Federation (ISSI).

"Tiara is the best in Asia," said ISSI coach Benny Setyawan, referring to Tiara's 16th position in the women's downhill ranking by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body for sports cycling.

In September, Tiara was 14th in the annual Mountain Bike UCI World Championships in Australia. She was the best participant from Asia.

In May, despite injury, she was third in the Asian Continental Championships in the Philippines.

"Mountain biking is considered as extreme sport, athletes risk injuries due to its challenging landscape," Benny said.

Becoming a Cyclist

"My best memory so far is the 2015 Asian Championships in Malaysia, where I won a gold medal," Tiara told the Jakarta Globe in late July.

"I used my own money to go there and eventually reached the podium."

The 22-year old athlete, born in Semarang, Central Java, said she has been practicing cycling since junior high school. Only in late 2012 she decided to try downhill after a friend's encouragement.

"I did not expect to become Asia's best cyclist in downhill. I was just training and learning from my seniors," she said.

She decided to become a professional cyclist last year, when she signed a contract with Indonesian bike maker Patrol. She also left her studies in accounting.

"I thought the subject was hard for me. I should have taken a degree related to sports. My mother supported my decision to leave university," she said.

"Education is important, but my situation was different."

Tiara trains three hours a day with her ISSI coaches.

Gold Tradition

"In Asia, we've been very strong in downhill," Benny said, adding that Indonesia has been topping the Southeast Asian Games in downhill since 2011.

"Only in 2015 and 2017 we couldn't win gold, because the hosts did not include downhill among their cycling competitions."

Two female and two male downhill cyclists will represent Indonesia during the Asian Games next month. While Nining Purwaningsih (ranked 87th) will accompany Tiara in the women's downhill, Khoiful Mukhib (69th) and Popo Sejati (381st) are most likely to compete in the men's event.

In the 2018 Asian Games, cyclists will race for 22 gold medals, two of them in downhill.