By LERPONG AMSA-NGIAM
THAILAND’S campaign in the Asian Games got off to a promising start with the taekwondo squad bringing the first gold medal in the women’s poomsae team event.
The awesome trio of Phenkanya Phaisankiattikun, Ornrawee Sirisahakit, Kotchawan Chomchuen proved superior in their presentation and accuracy to rivals South Korea, where this martial arts originated, outscoring them 8.210 to 8.200 in the final. They had outperformed Taiwan 7.950-7.650 earlier in the semi-finals.
It was a surprise medal for the Kingdom’s team as poomsae has just been included in the Games as a medal sport for the first time.
“It was really hard,” said team manager Thanathit Raktabut. “Beating South Korea is awesome. Both the athletes and the coaching team deserve full credit for their hard work. They have been well prepared and finally won the gold for the country.”
Earlier, Thailand won a bronze medal in the men’s individual poomsae after PongpornSuvittayarak lost to South Korean Kang Minsung 8.49 to 8.70 in the semi-final. Pongporn’s medal was the first for Thailand in the 18th Asiad being held in Indonesia.
“Pongporn also did an excellent job even though he had to settle for a bronze. We expect to win more when the fighting event starts on Tuesday [tomorrow],” said Thanathit. Taekwondo is expected to yield more medals from the highly promising Panipak Wongpattanakit in the women’s 49 category.
In sepak takraw, Thailand had no problem handling their arch-rivals Malaysia, beating the neighbouring country 3-0 in the men’s team regu Group A preliminary round.
However, Thailand’s national head coach Kamon Tankimhong saw some loopholes in his side, which must be fixed before the next game against South Korea today.
“Our players need to adjust to the conditions here in order to have more time for the warm-up. It’s good we played Malaysia first so we know where we have to improve if we are to meet them again, especially our attacking game,” said Kamon in a post-match interview.
Veteran player Pornchai Kaokaew who has won a total of eight Asian Games gold medals said: “They [Malaysia] served really well against us but we still managed to come back and win the match due to our better teamwork. Malaysia have been improving a lot. We should be careful if we have to play them again in the next stage,” said the 37-year-old long-time national player.
In women’s volleyball first preliminary round in Pool A, Thailand got off to a flying start with a convincing 3-0 over the Philippines 25-22 25-12 25-15.
“We started a bit slow as Philippines knew our style and took some risks with powerful serves. But we took control later in the first game and stayed ahead until the end,” said national coach Danai Sriwatcharamethakul whose side will play Japan on Thursday.
In the men’s badminton team event, Thailand proved no match to the powerful South Koreans who won the first-round match 3-1. The women’s team face Taiwan today in the quarter-finals.