SINGAPORE: Bali is not just famous for its white sandy beaches. It also has Maria Natalia Londa.
The Bali-born athlete is the star of the Indonesian athletics team. She shone at last year's Incheon Asian Games and at this SEA Games.
Maria created history in Asiad by achieving a personal best of 6.55m en route to gold medal in the women's long jump event. For her achievement in ending Indonesia's 16-year gold medal drought in athletics at the Asiad, the Indonesia National Sports Committee honoured her with its Achievement Award.
And on Wednesday at the SEA Games, Maria was in smashing form to register yet another personal best of 6.70m to win the gold in the long jump event to qualify for next year's Rio Olympics.
The qualifying mark for the Olympics is 6.70m.
Maria, who rewrote the Indonesia national record in Singapore, missed the SEA Games record by a mere 1cm. The Games record is 6.71m.
"I am thrilled with my success to qualify for my first Olympics. All my hard work in training is paying off," said the 24-year-old.
"To achieve something in life, you must have true passion, dedication and motivation.
"The last nine months have been wonderful,” said Maria, who began competing in the jump events at the age of 12 and joined the national team in 2007.
She was only 17 when she represented Indonesia in the triple jump event at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, where she managed a distance of 12.94m in the qualifying rounds.
However, a severe ankle injury kept her out for six months and prevented her from competing in the 2007 Korat SEA Games.
Thanks to hard work and sheer determination, she returned to the SEA GAmes in Palembang in 2011 to win silvers in long jump and triple jump.
At the last SEA Games in Myanmar, Maria bagged the gold in those two events.
Maria believes nothing is impossible and she is now aiming to defy the odds by winning a medal at the Rio Olympics.