Female hurdler Emilia Nova attends the launch of the Indonesian contingent jersey for the 31st Hanoi SEA Games in Jakarta on April 28. 2022. (ANTARA/Arindra Meodia/uyu) -
Being the Indonesian national flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the 31st Hanoi Southeast Asian (SEA) Games was a matter of immense pride and honor for the hurdler Emilia Nova.
Moreover, Nova is the first female flag bearer for the contingent at the biggest sporting event in Southeast Asia.
Nova's selection for serving as the flag bearer was inseparable from her impressive track record.
She bagged a silver medal in the women’s heptathlon at the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, a silver medal in the women's 100-meter (m) hurdles at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games, as well as a gold medal in the women's 100m hurdles at the Philippines 2019 SEA Games.
On account of her achievements, the hurdler qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics that took place from July 23 to August 8, 2021.
However, her aspirations of competing in the world’s biggest sporting event remained unfulfilled since she suffered from a long-term injury that required her to be operated in June 2021.
It started in 2019 when she sensed an ache in her waist. However, she brushed it off as a normal injury at the time.
However, the pain did not subside for quite a long time. A thorough examination showed that her L4 spinal segment had shifted.
Hence, despite Nova having a great opportunity to compete in the Olympics through the universality quota scheme, she decided to drop the opportunity and opted for a surgery to maintain her career as an athlete.
She was replaced by Alvin Tehupeiory in the women’s 100 meters.
Was Nova disappointed? Certainly. However, she told ANTARA that her decision to undergo the surgery was to continue to pursue several other dreams to make Indonesia proud at the global stage.
Hence, she had huge determination to swiftly recover by undertaking various programs to expedite her healing process.
She came back with a vengeance in the 82nd Singapore Open Track & Field Championships held at the Home of Athletics at the Kallang Sports Centre, Singapore, on April 16-17, 2022.
In the first international tournament after her surgery, the Jakarta athlete bagged a gold medal in the women's 100m hurdles after recording a time of 13.74 seconds.
At the tournament, she did not sense any pain, thereby indicating that she had made a complete recovery. It bolstered her motivation to defend her gold medal at the 31st Hanoi SEA Games.
Hence, she has stepped up her training and finalized her preparations.
Being chosen to be the flag bearer also further encouraged her to bag a gold medal in her first international multi-sport event after the surgery.
In addition, Nova's selection as the national flag bearer at the opening ceremony -- held at the M ình National Stadium, Hanoi, Vietnam, on May 12, 2022 -- is proof that Indonesia upholds equality for women in sports.
Chef de Mission (CdM) of the Indonesian contingent at the 31st SEA Games, Ferry J. Kono, emphasized that male and female athletes had equal rights and opportunities.
The Indonesian Olympic Committee (KOI) has intensively campaigned for the equality of women through the Indonesian Women in Sports Commission.
Hence, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) had assessed that the commission was one of the most active institutions in promoting the achievement of female athletes through various events and discussions.
As a series of the implementation of the 31st Hanoi SEA Games, the Women in Sports Commission of SEA Games Federation (SEAGF) held a meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, on May 11, 2022.
During the meeting, the participants discussed various issues regarding sports and women in Southeast Asia.
Nowadays, although women's participation in sporting events has increased, there is still a lack of gender equality in sports leadership at the sporting board, executive committee, and health committee.
The number of female officials in sports institutions in the 11 Southeast Asian countries is still low, and currently, none of them is being led by a woman.
Hence, the meeting's participants agreed to urge the national Olympic committee in Southeast Asia to establish a women's sports committee to increase the participation of women in the sports committee in the region to up to 30 percent.
The Indonesian contingent displayed its cultural diversity at the opening ceremony of the 31st Hanoi SEA Games by wearing various native headbands from the provinces throughout Indonesia.
"We want to showcase the wealth of Indonesian culture, so we chose to wear traditional headbands. (The presented headbands do) not only (come from) a province, but all provinces in Indonesia," Kono affirmed.
Attending the opening ceremony as the head of the contingent, he wore the takowa kiki, an attire of the Gorontalo King that is usually sported while inspecting the condition of his people.
The attire is usually adorned by a gold chain on the left and right side of the trousers as a symbol that a king must be neutral, while the chain means that patience is a virtue of a leader.
The clothes worn by the CdM were quite colorful. It was dominated by red and decorated by yellow, green, and purple. These colors are the symbols of the ancient Gorontalo kingdom that reflect enthusiasm, confidence, and firmness.
“I am from Gorontalo, and the dress was designed by a local designer. It proves that extraordinary potentials exist throughout Indonesia," he remarked.
Meanwhile, the athletes partaking in the opening ceremony wore a white polo shirt, red suit jacket, cream trousers, and footwear made by Indonesian badminton player Greysia Polii’s brand, Fine Counsel.
"We chose sporty casual millennial clothing to showcase that the Indonesian contingent is dominated by junior athletes. Hence, we do not need to wear a too formal suit. Meanwhile, the shoes we put on showcase that we are proud of Indonesian-made products," Kono remarked.
Hence, in addition to promoting Indonesian cultural wealth, he expected that the simple costumes used by Indonesian athletes during the parade can showcase the modesty of Indonesians in interacting with the people of Southeast Asia.
In addition to Nova and Kono, the Indonesian contingent comprised another 23 athletes from four sports branches -- athletics, swimming, jiujitsu, and e-sports -- as well as five officials.
The athletes appointed to participate in the opening ceremony were the ones whose competition started on May 14, 2022.
"We want to maintain the condition of the athletes. Thus, they will not get tired during their matches," the CdM added//ANT