Subject: AFP: East Timor just happy to be competing

East Timor just happy to be competing

AFP 18.9.2002

DILI: East Timor, the world’s newest nation, is enthusiastic about taking part in the Asian Games but its delegation head says participation is much more important than winning, or losing.

East Timor, which gained independence from Indonesia on May 20 after 31 months of UN stewardship, is sending a team of six officials and 24 athletes who will compete in nine events, said East Timorese Sport Association president Joao Carrascalao.

“The most important thing for us at this moment is to take part and contribute to the success of the Games, rather than concern ourselves with victories or defeat,” Carrascalao, the delegation head, said.

“Of course, who does not want to win, but most of all we want to take part.”

East Timorese athletes, he said, have been training hard since the country was informed earlier this month that the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) had decided to allow it a temporary membership so that it could take part in the Games.

The OCA plan to hold an executive board meeting during the Asiad to allow East Timor full membership, the Busan Asian Games Organising Committee has said.

East Timor will compete in boxing, badminton, table-tennis, tennis, weightlifting, taekwondo, karate, cycling and track and field.

Carrascalao said his team all have a strong determination to take part and perform well, despite the odds being stacked against them.

“The conditions here are not very good. With the lack of equipment, proper facilities and appropriate diet, it is a struggle to train,” he said.

He declined to speculate on the likely performances of his athletes saying they had very little international experience.

“It is hard to say, because we have no prior exposure to the Asian Games,” he said.

Busan will be their third international sports event after the Sydney Olympics and the Arafura regional Games in Darwin, Northern Australia.

“But the Asian Games is, for us, the most important occasion for our athletes,” he said, adding that only three of the four athletes who took part in the 2000 Olympics would compete in Busan.

Boxer Victor Ramos, weightlifter Martinho DeAraugo, and marathon runners Calisto Da Costa and Aguida Amaral took part in the Sydney Games as individuals under the Olympic flag.

Carrascalao said the badminton players appeared to be facing the toughest challenge since many of the leading world badminton players came from Asia. ­ AFP

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