Maria Natalia Londa is one of Indonesia’s longest-serving track and field stars but the long-jump athlete’s gold medal in the Philippines may be her last Southeast Asia (SEA) Games medal.
The 2019 tournament is Maria’s sixth SEA Games. In the weekend’s competition in New Clark City Maria took the women’s long jump gold and triple jump silver, making them the 11th and 12th SEA Games medals she has collected thus far.
“I’ve counted. This is my sixth SEA Games, and [the gold] was my [SEA Games’] 12th medal. I see my run here as my last, but I don’t know, it really depends on PASI [the Indonesian Athletics Association], though,” said Maria, who started her journey as a track and field athlete in 2000, as quoted by Antara on Sunday.
“I think I can still be [competing] while ushering in the juniors [at international events], but I don’t think it will be for the long term,” added the 29-year-old.
Maria snatched the gold medal in Sunday’s women’s long jump finals after jumping 6.47 meters, defeating silver medalist Parinya Chuaimaroeng (6.23m) of Thailand. Mong Mo Vu Thi (6.16m) of Vietnam took bronze.
On Saturday, Maria had to be happy with silver medal in the women’s triple jump after making 13.6m. She lost to gold medalist Parinya who made 13.75m. Thi Men Vu (13.55m) of Vietnam won bronze.
Indonesian track and field silver medalist Maria Natalia Londa competes in the women’s triple jump during the the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games at New Clark Athletics Stadium in the Philippines on Saturday. (Antara/Nyoman Budhiana)
Maria’s coach, I Ketut Pageh, revealed that the track and field star suffered a stomach cramp leading up to the triple jump silver. However, in Sunday’s finals Maria felt much better so she could deliver the golden jump.
The 2019 Games long jump achievement also improved on Maria’s personal best in the 2017 Games in Malaysia, where she earned a long jump silver and a triple jump silver.
Besides her stunning SEA Games medal collection, Maria also won an Asian Games gold in 2014 in South Korea.
She was Indonesia’s flag bearer in the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she competed in the long jump but could only finish 23rd in the qualifying round.
Maria’s medal tally in the 2019 Games was laudable given that she had suffered a knee injury for about two years. Maria sustained the injury when she competed in the Singapore SEA Games in 2015.
In the 2015 Games, Maria won the long jump gold that also handed her the Rio Olympics ticket.
“What I achieved here [in the Philippines] has surpassed my personal target. When you have an injury [for many years], it is a challenge to return [to competitive events]. [The injury] could damage your confidence.
“I thank the Lord for giving me back my confidence,” said the Bali-born Maria.
Besides the knee injury, Maria also suffered pain in her Achilles tendon, which made her consider retirement earlier this year.
“[The retirement plan] was actually an accumulation of all the things that I’ve experienced, and I thought about it even since early last year,” said Maria, who is planning to start a family with her husband.
“But I just kept on going [for the 2019 Games], tried my best to endure with my injuries on the road to mark my 20th year in the sport.
“I once thought about quitting, but what I earned today has paid everything off. I feel so relieved,” said Maria, who is considering retiring after competing in the 2020 National Games (PON) in Papua.Artikel Asli