Thais expect plenty of gold at SEA Games, but warn Cambodia is ‘tricky’
Thai players will win at least 15 gold medals in five events at the Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia in May, officials from five sporting associations predicted.
They cautioned, however, that the host nation may have a few tricks up its sleeve.
Thailand will win 15 gold medals in volleyball, golf, chess, rowing, and wrestling, they told a press conference hosted by the Sports Authority of Thailand on Friday.
Visuit Tangvarithron, president of the Thai Wrestling Association, expects at least one gold medal from the 11 Thai men and four Thai women wrestlers who will compete at the games.
However, it is unfair that Cambodia is sending a wrestler who was an Iranian national before obtaining Cambodian citizenship, Visuit said.
Thana Chaiprasit, vice-president of the National Olympic Committee of Thailand, agreed, saying: “Cambodia is doing everything to take advantage of competitors, including sending athletes who have switched nationalities and appointing Cambodian referees.”
Thai athletes will find it difficult to compete at the SEA Games because they may have no residence, Thana added, explaining that Cambodia has not yet fully prepared for the games.
Thailand had to book hotel rooms for athletes as a backup plan because the residence for athletes has not yet been completed, he said.
Danai Sriwatcharamethakul, coach of the Thai women's volleyball team, said a mix of experienced players and fresh faces will compete for gold in Phnom Penh.
Golf Association of Thailand secretary-general Kittisak Chaimongkoltrakul said Thai golfers are already training on the course they will compete on in Cambodia.
“The association believes Thailand will take home four gold medals as Thai golfers have excelled in recent domestic and international competitions,” Kittisak said.
Sahapol Nakvanich, president of the Thailand Chess Association, said Thais could win up to five of the seven chess gold medals up for grabs, but they face one hurdle.
Cambodia requires that participants be 18 years of age or older to compete in the games, but the best Thai chess player is only 14 years old, Sahapol said.
Wiwat Kwansungnern, deputy secretary-general of the Rowing Sports Association of Thailand, expects Thailand to win two gold medals: one for the 250-metre race and one for the 10-person rowing team.
The Southeast Asian Games will be held in Cambodia from May 5 to 17. They will showcase 49 sports and games.