Hurdler Erawati, 37, still aiming for Olympics
Three-time SEA Games 100m hurdles champ Erawati trying to qualify for Rio
She turns 37 at the end of the month, but Indonesian 100m hurdler Dedeh Erawati is not giving up hope of qualifying for August's Rio Olympics.
The three-time South-east Asia (SEA) Games gold medallist (2007, 2009 and 2013) and Asian Games bronze medallist (2009) stepped up preparations by winning her 200m final at the Asia Masters Athletics Championships yesterday.
Erawati clocked 25.92sec in the women's 35-40 category to finish almost three seconds faster than second-placed Vinita Naithani (28.89) of India.
This is her fourth gold medal at the five-day meet.
Besides winning the 100m hurdles in 14.40sec on Friday, Erawati also won gold in the 100m (12.43) and 400m hurdles (1:04.22) events.
"Racing in the 200m helps me in terms of speed endurance, starting from the first hurdle to the 10th hurdle," she told The New Paper after her race at the National Stadium.
"I use this competition as a try-out to see how effective my training has been; the 35 to 40 category is of a pretty competitive standard, so that is good for me."
But it looks a tall order for Erawati, who set her 100m hurdles personal best and national record of 13.18 at the Taiwan Open four years ago. She has to meet the Olympic qualifying time of 13.00 by July 11.
"I'm probably going to compete at the Taiwan Open again (on May 19 and 20) to fight for my qualification for Rio," she said.
"I won gold medal at the Singapore Open last week after running 13.65, and I have maybe three more try-outs to hit the qualifying mark, so wish me luck."
Erawati knows what it takes. She received a wildcard to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she reached the final heat, but failed to qualify for the semi-finals.
"My favourite runner is (American 100m hurdles athlete) Lolo Jones; we met at the Beijing Olympics, but we didn't take a picture because everyone was really focused," she said.
"I've never competed against her, but I hope to some day."
Erawati, who got into athletics as a 14-year-old after a primary school teacher introduced her to the sport, says her motivation to keep running comes from within.
"The plan was to retire after the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, but now, with the Asia Masters, I can run till any age I want," she said with a chuckle.
"My team of nine people are here supporting me, and they're the reason I can win at the Singapore Open and still be at my maximum at the Asia Masters.
"I really love the feeling of training and competing, it helps me stay positive."
Erawati's past failures, including conceding the gold medal to fierce rival Wallapa Punsoongneun of Thailand at last year's SEA Games in Singapore, also keep her going.
"I'm still disappointed about that but it's okay; it doesn't bring me down but makes me train harder every day," added the mother of one.
"I'm very happy about my four gold medals here because I enjoy the sport so much."
I really love the feeling of training and competing, it helps me stay positive.
— Indonesia’s Dedeh Erawati, who won four golds at the Asia Masters Athletics Championships