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Thailand eye 14 gold medals, overall athletics champions

BANGKOK: Thailand have set a target of 14 gold medals for their athletics contingent in the 29th Kuala Lumpur SEA Games (KL2017), which will be good enough to defend their title as the overall champions in the sport during the biennial games.
Despite the confidence of retaining the overall champions in SEA Games athletics events, the team nevertheless expected stiff competition especially from hosts, Malaysia and Indonesia for the coveted title.
“We have set a target of 14 gold medals for our athletics team for Kuala Lumpur SEA Games. I think 14 gold medals are good enough for us to defend our overall champion title in the sport,” Athletics Association of Thailand (AAT) deputy general secretary Maj Gen Supawanat Ariyamongkol told Bernama here recently.
Supawanat, who was a former Thai top sprinter during the 60’s and 70’s, said the expected gold medal haul would come from several track and field events where the team would be represented by their Asian-level athletes.
One of the sure-gold medals for the Thai athletics team in KL2017 would come from the men’s 4x100 metres relay, in which the country had been the traditionally winners, he added.
“Thailand’s 4x100 metres team won the silver medal in the recent Asian Championships in India few months ago and will be the clear favourites during SEA Games,” he said adding that the Thai quartet were only pipped at the finishing line by the Japanese team.
Despite the progress made by Malaysian 4x100 metres team led by Khairul Hafiz Jantan, he rated Indonesia’s relay team more highly than Malaysia in challenging Thailand for the gold medal in the eagerly-anticipated clash during SEA Games.
Besides the men’s 4x100 metres relay, Supawanat said, some of the other expected gold medals for Thailand in athletics would come from javelin (men’s and women’s ), pole vault (men’s), discuss (women’s), long jump (men’s), heptathlon, decathlon and men’s 110 metres hurdles.
For men’s 100 metres and 200 metres, the unpredictability of the race means the runner who commits less mistakes will stand a better chance in bagging the gold medal and gets crowned as the fastest man in Southeast Asia, he said.
He expected Thailand’s top sprinter and the double gold medal winner in 100 metres and 200 metres in the 2013 Myanmar SEA Games, Jirapong Meenapra would be challenging for the gold medal in both events.
Thailand’s 80-member athletics team who are a combination of senior and junior athletes will be flying to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow. - Bernama

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