Richard Sam Bera

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Richard Sam Bera
Personal information
National team  Indonesia
Born (1971-12-19) 19 December 1971 (age 43)
Jakarta, Indonesia
Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight 75 kg (165 lb)
Sport
Sport Swimming
Strokes Freestyle, medley
College team Arizona State University (USA)
Coach Michael Chasson (USA)

Richard Sam Bera (born 19 December 1971) is a retired Indonesian swimmer, who specialised in sprint and middle-distance freestyle events.[1] He is a three-time Olympian (1988, 1996, and 2000), a bronze medalist at the Asian Games (1990), and an eleven-time SEA Games champion since his debut in 1989, regarding as Indonesia's most successful swimmer in the sporting history. Since 2001, Bera currently holds an Indonesian record of 50.80 in the 100 m freestyle from the Southeast Asian Games. Apart from his sporting success, Bera also works as a sports broadcaster for MetroTV in Jakarta, and also, as an editor-in-chief for FHM and Men's Fitness Indonesia Magazine.

Career[edit]

Early years[edit]

Bera made his official debut, as Indonesia's youngest swimmer (aged 16), at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. He failed to reach the top 16 final in any of his individual events, finishing forty-first in the newly introduced 50 m freestyle (24.67),[2] forty-seventh in the 100 m freestyle (53.59),[3] forty-eighth in the 200 m freestyle (1:57.60),[4] forty-third in the 400 m freestyle (4:08.70),[5] and thirty-seventh in the 200 m individual medley (2:13.90).[6]

Bera's name reached towards an early sport popularity when he earned his first ever gold medal in the 100 m freestyle (52.19) and bronze in the newly introduced 50 m freestyle at the 1989 Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.[7]

One year later, at the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing, China, Bera won a bronze medal in the 100 m freestyle at 51.79, trailing China's Xie Jun by almost a full second.

College career[edit]

Shortly after the Games, Bera accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, where he played for the Arizona State Sun Devils swimming and diving team under head coach Michael Chasson. While swimming for the Sun Devils, he received four All-American honours in the 100-yard freestyle, and all freestyle relays (200, 400, and 800).[8] To further focus on his collegiate career, Bera decided to scratch out from any international tournaments, including the Olympics and the Asian Games. In his senior season, Bera turned himself into a professional swimmer and then made a strong comeback for the Indonesian swimming team. At the 1995 Southeast Asian Games in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Bera powered past the entire swimming field to strike a sprint freestyle double (both 50 and 100 m).[7]

International comeback[edit]

After an eight-year absence from Seoul as a 16-year-old, Bera qualified for his second Indonesian team at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Although he was able to improve his standards from past tournaments, Bera still placed in a "middle-of-the-pack" in any of his individual events, finishing forty-fourth in the 50 m freestyle (23.80), and thirty-fourth in the 100 m freestyle (51.25).[9][10]

When his nation Indonesia hosted the 1997 Southeast Asian Games in Jakarta, Bera was delighted and overwhelmed by the home crowd, as he edged out Filipino favourite Raymond Papa to defend his titles in both the 50 and 100 m freestyle.[7] Shortly after the Games, Bera announced his retirement to concentrate on his job as an assistant coach for the Arizona State Sun Devils. On that same year, he graduated from the University with a bachelor of science degree in political science major in economics.[11]

Two years later, in 1999, Bera made a decision to come out of retirement, and set up an official return to the Indonesian swimming team. At the Southeast Asian Games, he defended his 100 m freestyle title for the third straight time in a record-breaking time of 51.03, slashing 0.28 seconds off the mark set by his teammate Wisnu Wardhana in 1993.[11] In the 50 m freestyle, Bera added another gold to his 4-year-old hardware in 23.49, more than two-tenths of a second (0.20) outside a 10-year-old record.[12]

At the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Bera competed again in a sprint freestyle double since his remarkable comeback from Atlanta. After defending third straight titles from the SEA Games, his entry times of 23.49 (50 m freestyle) and 51.03 (100 m freestyle) were accredited under a FINA B-standard.[13][14] In the 100 m freestyle, Bera placed thirty-seventh on the morning prelims. Swimming in heat six, he edged out Israel's Yoav Bruck to take a sixth spot by exactly a tenth of a second (0.10) in 51.52.[15] Two days later, in the 50 m freestyle, Bera challenged seven other swimmers in heat five, including Bahamas' Allan Murray, top 16 finalist in Atlanta four years earlier. He came up short in third place and forty-second overall at 23.54, just a small fraction off his entry time.[16]

At the 2001 Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Bera matched his own record of 51.03 to claim a 100 m freestyle title for the fourth straight time, edging out host nation's Allen Ong by 0.28 of a second.[17][18]

Twelve years after winning a bronze medal, Bera competed for the second time, as a strong 31-year-old veteran, at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, South Korea. He missed the podium twice in any of his swimming events, finishing fourth in the 50 m freestyle (23.49), and fifth in the 100 m freestyle (51.41).[19]

At the 2003 Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, Bera won a bronze medal in the 50 m freestyle at 23.73, finishing behind surprising Thai teenager Arwut Chinnapasaen and his Malaysian nemesis Allen Ong by four-tenths of a second (0.40).[20]

Sixteen years since his debut, Bera made his final appearance as a swimmer at the 2005 Southeast Asian Games in Manila. He won a total of three swimming medals: a single gold in the 100 m freestyle (51.94), and two silvers each in the 50 m freestyle (23.36) and in the 4×100 m freestyle relay (3:29.46).[21] Shortly after the Games, Bera announced his second, yet official retirement from swimming, ending a career with three Olympic appearances, and more than ten SEA Games medals to his collection.

Life after swimming[edit]

Since 2000, Bera has been working as a sports broadcaster for MetroTV on the western outskirts of Jakarta, and also, as an editor-in-chief for FHM and Men's Fitness Indonesia Magazine. Following his retirement from swimming, Bera still remained strong and faithful to his sport regime. He became a founder of Millenium Aquatics Club and a full-time member of Fitness First Indonesia, and later competed in both Olympic and sprint-distance triathlons across Indonesia, specifically in Bali.[22]

Bera also attended both as a spectator and a visitor at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Watching the athlete procession from the stands during the closing ceremony, he reminisced an Olympic moment from his Twitter: "Seeing all those athletes down there, abit emotional for me. I used to be down there".[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Richard Sam Bera". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  2. ^ "Seoul 1988: Aquatics (Swimming) – Men's 50m Freestyle Heat 4" (PDF). Seoul 1988. LA84 Foundation. p. 400. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  3. ^ "Seoul 1988: Aquatics (Swimming) – Men's 100m Freestyle Heat 5" (PDF). Seoul 1988. LA84 Foundation. p. 401. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  4. ^ "Seoul 1988: Aquatics (Swimming) – Men's 200m Freestyle Heat 4" (PDF). Seoul 1988. LA84 Foundation. p. 402. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "Seoul 1988: Aquatics (Swimming) – Men's 400m Freestyle Heat 2" (PDF). Seoul 1988. LA84 Foundation. p. 403. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  6. ^ "Seoul 1988: Aquatics (Swimming) – Men's 200m Individual Medley Heat 3" (PDF). Seoul 1988. LA84 Foundation. p. 412. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c "Swimming: Richard returns for one last fling in Games". New Straits Times. 28 July 1999. p. 44. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  8. ^ "Men's Swimming and Diving All-Americans". Arizona State Sun Devils. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  9. ^ "Atlanta 1996: Aquatics (Swimming) – Men's 50m Freestyle Heat 5" (PDF). Atlanta 1996. LA84 Foundation. p. 35. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "Atlanta 1996: Aquatics (Swimming) – Men's 100m Freestyle Heat 6" (PDF). Atlanta 1996. LA84 Foundation. p. 36. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  11. ^ a b "Veteran Richard back in the swim of things". Jakarta: The Jakarta Post. 10 August 1999. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "Richard good as gold in 50m freestyle". Jakarta: The Jakarta Post. 12 August 1999. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  13. ^ "Swimming – Men's 50m Freestyle Startlist (Heat 5)" (PDF). Sydney 2000. Omega Timing. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  14. ^ "Swimming – Men's 100m Freestyle Startlist (Heat 6)" (PDF). Sydney 2000. Omega Timing. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  15. ^ "Sydney 2000: Swimming – Men's 100m Freestyle Heat 6" (PDF). Sydney 2000. LA84 Foundation. p. 114. Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  16. ^ "Sydney 2000: Swimming – Men's 50m Freestyle Heat 5" (PDF). Sydney 2000. LA84 Foundation. p. 105. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  17. ^ "30 and counting: Malaysia continues to dominate SEA Games". Sports Illustrated (CNN). 10 September 2001. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  18. ^ "Bera equals SEA Games record". Utusan Malaysia. 11 September 2001. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  19. ^ "Wu and Qi Win Third Gold Apiece, as China Winds Up a Dominant Performance at Asian Games". Swimming World Magazine. 5 October 2002. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  20. ^ "United States-trained swimmer sweeps breaststroke events". The Star. 10 December 2003. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  21. ^ Kurniawan, Moch (16 December 2005). "PRSI buoyed by up-and-coming swimmer's SEAG performance". Jakarta: The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  22. ^ Prathivi, Niken (9 September 2002). "For the love of sports". Jakarta: The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  23. ^ "Athletes savour the moment at Closing Ceremony". Olympics. 13 August 2012. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 

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