MIMIKA, PAPUA – The 20th National Game (PON XX) 2021 held in Papua continued to spring more surprises. This time the surprise came from host contingent, Papua, that not only has succeeded in organizing the event, but also in achieving new achievements recorded by its athletes.
As soon as the National games is officially opened by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo at Lukas Enembe Stadium, Kampung Harapan, East Sentani District, Jayapura Regency, on Saturday (2/10/2021), the host contingent immediately spurred with extraordinary achievements. As per Tuesday (5/10/2021), 7 pm Eastern Indonesian time, the sports heroes of Bumi Cendrawasih (the land of the bird-of-paradise) have won 32 gold, 15 silver, and 34 bronze medals. This achievement put Papua in second place in the medal standings.
Papua was only second to DKI Jakarta, 11-times PON champion. The capital province sit at the top of medal standing with 38 gold, 25 silver, and 31 bronze medals, and remained the strongest competitor.
Meanwhile, West Java, the PON 2016 champion, was in third place with 29 gold, 26 silver, and 35 bronze medals. Following West Java was East Java in fourth. The two-times PON champion has collected 22 gold, 25 silver, and 20 bronze medals. Central Java was on the fifth position with 10 gold, 20 silver, and 21 bronze medals.
The achievements recorded by its best athletes is a new history for Bumi Cendrawasih. Previously, Papua has never won more than 30 gold medals throughout its participation in PON. In fact, it is very difficult for the province to make it to the top three although it is one of the “producers” of potential national and world-class athletes.
Throughout the history of PON, Papua’s best achievements in winning gold medals were in 1985, 1989, and 2004 where they received 23 gold medals. Since then, Papua has never succeeded in achieving more than 23 gold medals during PON. However, now, as the host of this year’s PON, Papua took the opportunity to score the highest possible scores.
“It is difficult to pass the top teams like DKI Jakarta. But I hope that Papua can maintain their position until the end (of PON). With our athletes’ talents, Papua can definitely do it,” said Youth and Sports Minister Zainuddin Amali during a press conference at the Ministry of Communication and Informatics’ (Kominfo) PON Papua Mimika Cluster Media Center at the Grand Mozza Hotel, Timika City, Monday (04/10/2021).
The Papua branch of the National Sports Council (KONI Papua) targeted to bring home 84 gold medals at this year’s PON, a target which is significantly higher than their last achievement in PON 2016 of 17 gold. “We are keen on winning 84 golds at PON 2021,” KONI Papua executive secretary Kenius Kogoya while accompanying the Youth and Sports Minister.
This target is not unrealistic, as the PON 2016 host, West Java, also set a fantastic target and managed to exceed the target. At that time, the province fantastically won 217 gold, 157 silver, and 157 bronze medals. This achievement far exceeds its achievement four years earlier in PON Riau 2012.
In 2012, Bumi Pasundan (West Java) only managed to bring home 99 gold, 79 silver, and 101 bronze medals. While Riau as the then host was able to win 43 gold, 39 silver, and 51 bronze which brought them to the sixth place. East Kalimantan also has similar experience when the province hosted PON 2008.
The mineral-rich province surprisingly occupied the third position with 116 gold, 111 silver, and 115 bronze medals in 2008, while previously only won 19 gold, 28 silver, and 19 bronze medals in PON 2004 in South Sumatra .
So far, Papua’s medal achievement at PON 2021 has been outstanding and the contingent’s chances of bringing more medals home are wide open, especially since this quadrennial sporting event is still ongoing until 15 October.
Moreover, in the medal standings, only a total of 179 gold, 175 gold, and 248 bronze have been distributed. Whereas the PON Papua Grand Committee prepared 681 gold, 681 silver, and 681 bronze, respectively.
The PON Papua 2021 is attended by 7,039 athletes and 3,576 officials from 34 provinces. These athletes will be competing in 37 different types of sports, 56 disciplines, 681 matches held in 44 venues located in four clusters prepared for the event.
All the matches held in this event are conducted with strict health protocols, both for athletes, officials, and spectators. “The implementation of PON Papua has been very good and professional. The people are very friendly,” said West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil. West Java is the champion of the 2016 PON. Torang bisa (We can)!