Jakarta. As Indonesia will host the 2018 Asian Games in August, hopes are running high that it will be among the top 10 countries in the medal count.
Indonesia's best performance in the Games was in 1962, when the sporting event was held in Jakarta under the patronage of first President Sukarno. Back then Indonesia earned 11 gold medals and was second after Japan, which brought home 73 gold medals.
Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi said in May that in 14 sports Indonesia can win the gold. Among them are badminton, weightlifting, bridge, rock climbing, jetski, archery, athletics, bowling, canoeing and rowing, cycling, paragliding, taekwondo and wushu.
Since 1951, however, Indonesia has won the gold only in 11 disciplines at the Asian Games: badminton (26), tennis (15), athletics (four), boxing (three), cycling (three), dragon boat (three), karate (two), sailing (two), bowling (one), wushu (one) and diving (one).
To finish among the top 10 in the medal tally, Indonesia should win at least 14 gold medals.
The most promising sports for Indonesian athletes this year are badminton, pencak silat, athletics, cycling and jet ski.
Indonesia's most successful appearances at the Asian Games are in badminton, with 91 medals won since 1962 — 26 golds, 25 silvers and 40 bronzes.
This year, the Games host will rely on Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon, the world's number one pair in the men's doubles, who stunned Denmark's Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen at the All-England finals in March.
The ministry expects two gold medals from badminton, with another one from Liliyana Natsir and Tontowi Ahmad, the world's number two in the mixed doubles, who won the gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Badminton has been regarded as Indonesia's most successful sport of all time.
Pencak silat is going to be included in the Games for the first time. As the host, Indonesia has a right to promote a sport of its own choosing. The government pushed for pencak silat, a martial art that originates from the archipelago.
Although Indonesians usually win in this discipline at all major tournaments, at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games, Indonesia brought home only two golds medals, amid allegations that scoring in the pencak silat competition had been inflated in favor of Malaysia to ensure a win for the host.
During the 2015 SEA Games, Indonesia was the top performer in the sport and won three gold, three silver and five bronze medals.
The ministry expects two pencak silat golds.
Wewey Wita, who won the gold at the 2017 SEA Games, is one of the most prospective performers.
Athletics has gained Indonesia four gold medals in the history of the Games.
At the 2017 SEA Games, athletics contributed five golds, seven silvers and three bronze medals.
Indonesia's current best performers are Maria Londa in the women's long jump, Eki Febri Ekawati in the women's shot-put and Atjong Tio Purwanto in the men's hurdles. Atjong was the only Indonesian athlete who won gold at the last Asian Games in South Korea, four years ago.
The Indonesian Athletics Federation (PASI) wants to win at least one gold this year.
Cycling has contributed three gold medals in the history of Indonesia's appearance at the Asian Games, and all of them were earned in 1962.
However, the discipline is expected to bring two gold medals, from the 2017 SEA Games gold medalist in the men's BMX, I Gusti Bagus Saputra, and the 2017 SEA Games gold medalist in the women's BMX, Elga Kharisma Novanda.
Jet skiing will be performed for the first time at the Games. Four events will be held at Ancol Beach in North Jakarta in the endurance roundabout open, roundabout 1,100 stock, roundabout limited and ski modified categories.
The ministry expects two gold medals from jet skiing, with Aero Sutan Aswar its biggest hope. Aero won a world championship title on a Jet Ski in 2014, and was second in 2017.