At the hotel where the para chess match is being held, Jumadi, a 61-year-old para chess athlete, carefully plots his moves to make Indonesia proud at the 2022 ASEAN Para Games.
Notwithstanding his age and his outwardly simple appearance, the spirit of the man from Semarang is still burning for the country.
Among the 324 Indonesian athletes competing in the largest disabled sports event in Southeast Asia, Jumadi is the most senior athlete in terms of age.
Born in Semarang on July 8, 1961, he is competing in the VI-B2 class or the class for visually impaired people with low vision.
The father of two is competing in three branches of chess—standard, rapid, and blitz, in both individual and group formats.
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Jumadi is no stranger to the chess world: he has been playing the game that requires strategy and a high level of concentration since childhood.
He often participated in local-level championships and became a podium winner, filling his home with trophies.
Jumadi's interest in chess was so keen that he continued to pursue the sport even after his right eye was damaged in an accident in 2006.
Despite his weakened eye, Jumadi remained diligent in sharpening his brain by playing chess regularly.
"If you learn (theory) every day without training, it is hard," Jumadi told ANTARA at the Hotel Lorin Dwangsa Solo ahead of the match against Vietnam.
For this reason, Jumadi, a former employee of a marketing company in Semarang, has lived by the principle of never stopping practicing.
For him, old age and impaired sight do not mean that he must surrender and accept fate, instead, he remains enthusiastic about fighting in the field he is engaged in.
Jumadi said that he trains for at least two hours daily with his friends, usually in the evening, after performing the Isha prayer.
He performs chess exercises without burden because to him, they are a hobby to hone skills, and a sport that is played casually.
"People who think (a lot) should exercise a lot. If you are not active, it is not healthy," he added.
Meanwhile, regarding the regeneration of athletes, he expressed the hope that many new para-chess athletes will emerge by organizing regional-level competitions.
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His first ASEAN match
Jumadi first stepped into the limelight when he participated in the 16th National Paralympic Week (Peparnas) in Papua in 2021.
At the time, he won one gold and two bronzes for the Central Java province contingent.
In Papua Peparnas, he won gold in the B2/3 individual classical chess and one bronze medal in the group classical chess, and another one in individual rapid chess.
Due to his victories in the 16th National Paralympic Week, Jumadi successfully entered the five-month national training (Pelatnas) in Solo organized for the para chess team for the 2022 ASEAN Para Games.
The national training was carried out Mondays through Saturdays and was divided into two sessions, morning and afternoon.
The 11th ASEAN Para Games in Solo is the first international competition that Jumadi is participating in. Therefore, he is striving to secure medals for his country along with 17 other para chess athletes.
Explaining Jumadi's selection for the Para Games, manager of the national chess team, Heri Isranto, said he considers him to be a persistent and passionate player who has stolen the limelight, which led to his selection to strengthen the Indonesian contingent for Southeast Asia's biennial sports multi-event.
"Jumadi's spirit is extraordinary, even though the (his experience in participating in) national and international competitions is still lacking, we believe he can present the best medals and performance for Indonesia," Isranto said while accompanying para-chess athletes at the ASEAN Para Games.
It is hoped that Jumadi's spirit and work will be an example, especially for young para chess players or athletes who are expected to replace senior ones, he added.
Meanwhile, head chess coach of the Indonesian National Paralympic Committee (NPC), Teddy Wiharto, said that apart from individual matches, Jumadi is also competing in the men's team B2 class with Gayoh Satrio and Adji Hartono, who are also expected to contribute medals.
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The 18-strong Indonesian para-chess team has set the target of winning at least nine golds.
It is hoped that Jumadi and other athletes will do their best for Indonesia's Red and White contingent.
In fact, Jumadi's presence itself at the 2022 ASEAN Para Games is already a victory. He has won over his physical limitations and is breaking down myths about old age.
With his perseverance, hard work, and love for chess, Jumadi is an inspiration for all and is proof that there is no physical and age barrier to making the country proud.
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