Indonesia is basking in glory in the aftermath of the Islamic Solidarity Games (ISG), having successfully hosted the complex event and come out on top of the medals count, with 36 gold, 34 silver and 34 bronze.
"We are grateful and proud again, Indonesia is the overall champion of Islamic Solidarity Games 2013 in Palembang. Congratulations!" President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono tweeted Wednesday (October 2nd), one day after the close of the games in Palembang, South Sumatra.
"With a steely determination and spirit, we surpassed Iran, Egypt, Malaysia, and Turkey, which are notoriously tough. Thank you!" said the president.
More than 1,800 athletes from 46 countries participated in the third edition of the ISG, officials said, featuring competition in thirteen categories: archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, beach volleyball, football, karate, swimming, taekwondo, tennis, volleyball, weightlifting and wushu (martial arts).
Iran came in second in the medal count, followed by Egypt in third place.
The ISG is an event for member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC), co-ordinated by the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF), based in Saudi Arabia.
But the "Islamic Olympics" are open to athletes of all faiths, officials said.
"Several participating countries have included in their contingent a number of non-Muslim athletes," Djoko Pramono, chairman of the ISG 2013 organising committee, told media in mid-September.
The games were not solely about sports, but also about unity, friendship, and peace Yudhoyono declared at the opening ceremony in Palembang's Jakabaring Stadium on September 22nd.
"With the games, let us remove the burdens of political interests and differences between countries. Instead let's continue to support sportsmanship and solidarity," he said.
He expressed appreciation that Egypt, Palestine, and Syria were participating in the ISG despite domestic problems at home.
"We all hope and prayed that through this sports event, solidarity among all members of the OIC countries can grow stronger together as a force of peace," he said.
The world comes to Palembang
The ISG was attended by more than 1,800 athletes from 46 of the ISSF's 57 member countries, including Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Guyana, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Maldives, Morocco, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, and Tajikistan.
Palembang residents were thrilled that athletes from all over the world converged on their city, which had just weeks to prepare for the event after a late change in venue.
"As a citizen of the city of Palembang, I am proud to host the ISG," said local resident Rahardi Iqbal. "This event is a good opportunity for us to improve our relations with youth from other Muslims countries," he added.
Passion, sportsmanship and pride
Indonesian weightlifter Sri Wahyuni Agustiani was excited to compete in Palembang.
"I am so happy I can participate in ISG 2013. I hope I won't just be a participant, but will reach the highest achievement, so I can raise up Indonesia's name in the world," she said.
She urged her teammates to compete with unyielding spirit.
"If we want the red and white flag to flutter from the highest places, we all have to fight and give our best for Indonesia. Compete with sportsmanship and passion," said Sri.
The Bandung native's dreams came true on September 24th, when she won gold in women's 48-kg weightlifting.
The fourth ISG is scheduled to take place in Azerbaijan in 2017, with officials in the Eurasian country promising to expand the competition menu to include sports like judo, boxing and wrestling.