As he stepped onto the carpet, and represented his beloved country of Indonesia at the 2019 World Wushu Championships in Shanghai, Edgar Xavier Marvelo was on fire. During this event he managed to pull off an incredible wushu hat trick — by winning 3 gold medals in changquan, gunshu and duilian. With emotions running high, he watched as officials raised the Indonesian flag front and center, and listened to his national anthem play to a cheering audience, and ecstatic team, not once but three times. This achievement of triple gold made Marvelo the most prolific non-Chinese wushu athlete during a single rendition of World Wushu Championships.
Falling in Love with Wushu
Marvelo, who will be 24 in December, comes from Jakarta, Indonesia, and started practicing wushu when he was 8 years old. “I discovered wushu during my extracurricular activities at my school. At first I was practicing wushu just as a hobby. But then I fell in love with this sport more and more every time I trained.”
Indonesia has a strong wushu community and culture, and has long been famous for producing champions. “My first competition was an invitational club competition around Jakarta,” recalls Marvelo. “I only trained wushu for about 3 months at that time, and I competed just for an experience. I didn’t aim to get any medal that time because I knew that I was new. But then I got two bronze medals and I was motivated to train harder from that moment. Because winning feels really good.”
Marvelo debuted internationally at the 2009 Asian Junior Wushu Championship in Macau, where he surprised even himself a little with gunshu. “I didn’t expect much for my first time at my first international competition. I was so excited yet really nervous. I competed in changquan and gunshu group C. I got 24th rank for my changquan and 4th rank in gunshu. I failed on my gunshu routine’s first movement, but what I realized was that I was really close to getting a medal there, and it motivated me so much to do better on my next competition. I was disappointed but I felt like there was lots of room for me to grow.”
Becoming a World Champion
Steady focus and training over the next half dozen years paid off handsomely with a silver medal in daoshu in the 2017 World Wushu Championships in Kazan. Marvelo recalls his experience. “It was really amazing and unexpected,” he says. “I was a new athlete for the senior level that time, I didn’t expect that I could compete with a lot of my senior competitors and be able to get a silver medal. I was so happy to get this. Every part of this experience was really good, and the competition was in Russia, somewhere I never visited before. The training for this competition was very short because we competed at the SEA Games a few months before the WWC. What makes me happy competing internationally was that I get to meet a lot of new friends from other countries and they become family as well. I have many friends from all around the world. I like to contact most of them on social media such as Facebook or Instagram. And when I’m visiting other countries for holiday, I like to let my friends know so we can hang out.”
Family is a strong and resonant theme with Marvelo, and in Indonesia, the Indonesian Wushu Team he belongs to offers an extra special familial bond. “I can say that I have the best team ever,” Marvelo exclaims. “The Indonesian Wushu Team always supports one another, at any time. Not only during competition but also during training. We have a good line up of coaches and players and that’s what makes our Indonesian Wushu Team improve really fast. We are not only a team here, but we feel like we’re a family. And that’s how we support each other, like family, through ups and downs. I feel really grateful, thankful, happy and proud to be able to win top awards for Indonesia. All my achievements are also made possible by the support of my family and team.”
Marvelo won a bronze medal at the SEA Games in 2017, and a silver medal at the Asian Games in 2018. He says, “It was something I always dreamed of, to win medals for my country at a multi-event competition. Especially during the Asian Games, it was in my hometown! All my family and friends were there. I only hoped that I could give them the best result and make them proud. Thankfully I got the silver medal — what an unforgettable moment for me and all my relatives.”
Changquan, Daoshu, Gunshu and Duilian!
Marvelo has trained for many years in changquan, daoshu and gunshu. “I like all styles that I’m competing in very much,” he explains, “because when I’m playing my routine, I feel like they just suit me and my personality as well. You have to be beautiful, but at the same time you have to be powerful and flexible. It’s like you’re in a movie. And everything just seems really fun.”
As if these specialties weren’t enough, Marvelo also decided to train in duilian – a decision that would turn out to be a golden one. “Duilian,” he says, “was recommended by my coach as we didn’t have any duilian athletes on our team. So we gave it a try. We practiced our duilian routine during our training camp at Nanjing, China. There’s one of China’s coaches, also a former gold medalist at the China national competition in duilian, Zhang Li, who helped us with our duilian routines and techniques. She helped us a lot to improve our duilian.” Which may be a bit of a modest understatement, considering Marvelo and his teammates won the duilian gold medal at Shanghai’s 15th World Wushu Championships! And this would turne out to be the icing on the cake.
Triple Gold Triumph in Shanghai
When Marvelo won an amazing 3 WWC gold medals in Shanghai, it was beyond even his best expectations. He recalls, “It was really, really unbelievable, I wasn’t expecting to get a gold, but then I got 3 golds — it’s just mind-blowing for me. It was also a really tough competition, with a lot of elite athletes from all over the world and they’re all soooo good. They have their own strength and specialty and I’m just so thankful that I was able to have a higher score. (He scored 9.66 in changquan, 9.66 in gunshu, and 9.49 in duilian.) My coaches and team were so surprised and they’re all so happy and proud.”
“The best part of all my competition,” Marvelo continues, “was that I was able to make my family happy and proud. I love to do what I’m doing. I’m sure every competition will have its own story and struggle. The most rewarding thing is that I’m able to raise the Indonesian flag in other countries and sing my national anthem. It’s priceless!”
Challenges, Triumph and Tragedy
Athletes face many challenges over their careers including the seemingly inevitable training or performance injury. Marvelo recalls, “I experienced several injuries during my trainings and I sometimes felt really down and stressed about it. But our team had a really good doctor and physiotherapist to handle my injury. My family, coaches and friends are the ones who helped me mentally, to keep me motivated during this hard time. Another challenge in wushu is that I have to be away from my family for a long, long time during training camp. Missing my family was very hard and sad for me. But I know that everything I do and struggle with is for my family as well. So I have to keep going!”
The toughest obstacle Marvelo had to overcome, by far however, was the tragic event of his father passing away. It happened the morning he was about to compete in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. The strength, composure and spirit he demonstrated in persevering impressed the entire wushu community. Marvelo won gold in both men’s daoshu and gunshu combined, and duilian, and dedicated the victory to his father, before heading straight home to his funeral.
Remembering this event, Marvelo, says, “There are some things that we cannot control. My father passed away just before my final competition. My brother called me at 2 a.m. in the morning to let me know that my father passed away. I was really shocked and speechless because I literally had no idea that my dad had suffered a heart attack. I didn’t sleep for the rest of the morning just thinking that my father was already gone. I was only going over the memories that I had with him. He’s always there at my every competition and I just felt lost. But he once told me, that I should never ever stop doing wushu because of him, and I must keep going for my mom too — and that’s what made me sane and able to focus to fight with all I have left. I just wanted to win, for him. There’s nothing I could do anymore, he passed away already. So it’s my mission to make him proud. I also have my responsibility as a professional athlete because the only gold medal chance for the Indonesian wushu team was up to me that time. I know it’s a hard thing to do, but at that moment it was really the only thing I could do.”
Coaching and Training Influences
Indonesian wushu is well-known for its strong support of wushu and the sport’s athletes, investing deeply in the national team, especially when it comes to coaching and training camps. “I have several coaches that influenced my wushu career very much,” says Marvelo. The first is Zhao Chang An, he’s my first coach who trained me and believed in me, and saw that I have what it takes to be a champion. Second is Gogi Nebulana, the first Indonesian wushu athlete who was able to get a gold medal at the World Wushu Competition. He taught me with all of his heart and he’s not just teaching me to win competition, but also to win at our life.”
“Third,” Marvelo continues, “is Susyana Tjhan, one of the most amazing wushu athletes in Indonesia. She taught me a lot of things – especially to be consistent to be a great athlete. Last but not least, Zhang Yue Ning, one of the legends in China. He’s the one who makes me the athlete I am now. He makes my routine better and he helps me how to prepare and be ready for big competitions. There are still a lot of other coaches that helped me get to my current level, and I’m very thankful to each every one of them because they all contribute a lot for my success.”
Training in China also became an extremely valuable experience in Marvelo’s wushu development. “I trained in China several times already,” he says. “It’s an amazing experience to be able to train together with China’s elite athletes and it really helps me to be better. Because seeing Chinese athletes train motivates me a lot. Sometimes training in China is a bit hard because the language and the culture are different, but overall it’s an amazing experience for me.”
The Golden Road to World Games
Marvelo is keeping his focus on wushu for the immediate future, knowing he is in his prime and there are many golden opportunities ahead. “Right now I have no other work outside wushu,” he says, “but I studied at Universitas Bhayangkara Raya, where I was a sports major, and this university really supports me being an athlete. Outside of wushu, when I need to refresh my mind, I usually play soccer or go watch movies at the cinema.”
“I want to compete and win more medals while I still can,” he continues. “I will keep training hard to keep my body in the best condition. And after my career as an athlete, I will definitely always be involved in wushu. Maybe I will be a coach and have my students achieve the world champion level as well. That’s my future dream though.”
Meanwhile, at the peak of his wushu career, Marvelo will attend The World Games in Birmingham this summer to compete in changquan, where he is ranked number 1. As he trains hard for these Games, Marvelo notes, “I’m so excited, and I really look forward to this competition because it’s the first time I’m going to participate at the World Games and have this experience. What makes me even more excited is that this is going to be my first time to visit the USA. I really hope I can compete at my best, and be able to achieve the top performance of my career.”
Undoubtedly, the marvelous Edgar Marvelo will bring his star talent to The World Games where the world will get to see the beauty and power of some of the very best wushu in the world.