By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
The Olympic Committee of Thailand (OCT) predicts that Thai athletes will win at least 9-10 gold medals in the Incheon Asian Games, with sepak takraw rated as a sport that could yield four gold medals.
Maj Gen Charouck Arirachakaran, the OCT secretary-general, said China, hosts South Korea, and the continent’s leading sports countries like Japan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and India were likely to snare better positions than Thailand on the medals table. The country won 11 gold medals and was ninth in the medal standings in Guangzhou four years ago.
“I hope we would at least maintain our spot on the medals table. My prediction is we will win 9-10 golds,” said Charouck, whose estimation is lower than the figures – 17 gold medals – projected by various sports associations and the Sports Authority of Thailand.
“China is going to win the overall title and South Korean as hosts will put in maximum efforts to win as many gold medals as possible,” said Charouck, the president of the Takraw Association of Thailand.
Of the 11 golds Thailand won in Guangzhou, four came in sepak takraw – with the men’s team and regu, women’s team and regu all winning.
The Kingdom’s favourite sport is likely to yield four golds again from a total of six categories to be competed between September 19–October 4.
“We are fielding players in four categories and hope to win all of them. All the teams have been training for six months in Saraburi [women] and Nakhon Nayok [men],” national team manager Pairoj Archarungrote said.
“However, I’m a bit concerned about our chances in the women’s regu team as South Korean is getting stronger every year. The last time the Asian Games was held in Busan, South Korea, we lost the women’s regu to South Korea in the final,” Pairoj said.
The sepak takraw competition is due to run from September 23 till October 3, with the Thai men’s team drawn in pool A along with Japan, India and South Korea, while the women’s team is in Pool A with Myanmar, South Korea and India.