Subject: Debutant East Timor Ready to Learn From Asiad

Also: East Timor make losing debut in Asian Games boxing

Korea Times

October 5, 2002, Saturday

Debutant East Timor Ready to Learn From Asiad

BUSAN - A row of athletes and officials stood weeping when they saw their national flag hoisted to the sky at the Athletes' Village in Busan on Sept. 28. For most of them, it was the first time to see their flag whipping in the wind in a foreign country.

''It was very touching and emotional to see our flag fluttering shoulder-to-shoulder with other national flags here,'' said East Timor official Gaspar Quintao Da Silva.

''For us, that means we are now participating the Asiad, recognized as a new member of Asian society. When I put my first step on Korean soil, I felt the same kind of emotion.'' said the 31-year-old, his eyes filled with emotion from the flashbacks.

East Timor has officially won the much-sought-after independence from Indonesia last May after a 27-year long struggle, and first participated in the Asiad in the capacity of observer. The newly-born country has not been approved as a member of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).

After officially becoming independent just months ago, most athletes have not had much time to concentrate on training. Even though the nation screened out the cream of the crop during the national sports event held in April and May in celebration of independence, the best athletes gathered just one month before they came here.

''We did not have enough time to prepare for the Asiad and all the athletes had to train individually,'' said Quintao.

Antonio G. Sales Da Costa, the infant country's sole table tennis delegate, is no exception. He won the last national tournament, defeating 20 other local players in May, but trained alone before arriving here.

''That kind of procedure is not well organized in my country. You need to find your own way to take part in such an event as the Asiad,'' Da Costa said.

Lack of organization wasn't the only major obstacle. There was also the limited finances.

''Without the organizing committee's financial support, we couldn't have come to this port. We appreciate it,'' said Quintao.

Making participation even more difficult, they had very limited information on how to take part in the international sporting event.

They faced stumbling blocks on every step, as everything, even what seems the most basic things for other participating nations, is new to the ''fledglings,'' in the international sporting society, according to Quintao, who is in charge of the international department of East Timor's football federation.

As they lack most of equipment and training suits, a couple of individuals and some companies had to join hands to support the newcomers.

Two domestic companies sponsored their participation and the Sangnoksu troop, the South Korean army unit currently on peacekeeping duty in East Timor, also donated some clothes and other needs.

One Korean lady, who asked for anonymity, also donated 1 million won for the Timorese, according to Kim Mi-hyun, a Portuguese-language service volunteer for the delegation.

However, insufficient equipment has sometimes forced her to go as far as knocking on other delegations' doors to borrow some equipment for the team.

''As its their first participation, there are quite a few things to be done. It's very tough for both the team and us. We volunteers sleep no more than five or six hours a day,'' said Kim.

''Despite all the hardship, the East Timorese are always smiling and very friendly,'' she added.

The two Timorese, prior to the interview, asked not to raise political questions, saying that ''We are trying to be close friends with Indonesian people and actually we are. There cannot be barriers in the sports world,'' Quintao emphasized.

Their aim in the medal tally? ''This is just our first participation. We want to learn from athletes from other member countries, and get experience at this sporting event,'' said Quintao.

''But if we can win any medal, we will be more than happy and lucky,'' he added, grinning.


Agence France Presse

October 5, 2002 Saturday

East Timor make losing debut in Asian Games boxing

BUSAN, South Korea, Oct 5

East Timor's long-awaited Asian Games boxing debut proved to be a day to forget on Saturday as flyweight Felix Alexandrino Barreto failed to connect with his punches and was eliminated.

The 20-year-old from Dili, a former Indonesia national champion, absorbed 16 blows from 27 year-old Thai veteran Somjit Jongjohor in the 51kg preliminary bout.

"That's okay. I will be better next time," Barreto told AFP after the bout.

East Timor, who became a new nation in May, sent two boxers to their Asiad debut.

The other Timorese fighter, lightweight Victor Ramos who fights South Korean Baik Jong-Sub on Monday, competed as an individual athlete at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Barreto, who trains wearing the blue and yellow trunks of the Indiana Pacers, his favorite National Basketball Association team, often looked slow compared to his Thai opponent.

But the brave Timorese lasted the distance, something Ramos failed to do when he lost to a Ghanaian opponent in Sydney.

Told that the judges called it 16-0, East Timor trainer Victor Pereira Mousaco was incredulous.

"That's unfair," he said, insisting that Barreto had also hit the Thai.


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