Two days before the closing ceremony of the 15th Paralympic Games, the 54-strong Thai contingent in 10 sports has already won five gold, four silver and four bronze medals.
The sixth gold will be officially added to the Kingdom’s tally today (Sept 17) as boccia world champion Worawut Saengampa and compatriot Watcharaphon Vongsa have set up an all-Thai final in the mixed individual-BC2.
Thailand have also surpassed their four-gold target in Rio.
Their previous best in the Paralympic Games was recorded at Sydney 2000, where they claimed five gold, four silver and two bronze medals.
So far, Thailand’s overall haul in Paralympic games stands at 18 gold, 22 silver and 24 bronze medals since taking part in the competition for the first time in 1984.
The fifth gold in Rio came from rising star Pongsakorn Paeyo in the men’s 800m-T53 yesterday (Sept 16) which gave Thailand a tie for 20th spot with South Africa overall.
“The results speak for themselves and reflect on how well our athletes have performed so far,” said Chutinant Bhirombhakdi, president of the Paralympic Committee of Thailand.
“Considering his age, Pongsakorn has produced a great performance and he will definitely prove to be a good asset for the country in the long run.”
Debutante Pongsakorn, 19, seems to have taken over from his own idol Prawat Woharam, a winner of seven gold medals in wheelchair racing.
Khon Kaen native Pongsakorn grabbed his second gold in Rio, winning the 800m race in 1:40.78 minutes.
Pierre Fairbank (1:40.97) of France and 100m gold medallist Brent Lakatos (1:41.09) of Canada came in 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Earlier, Pongsakorn won the gold in the 400m and silver in the 100m.
“I put in my best effort because it is my first appearance in the biggest sports event for the disabled,” Pongsakorn said.
“I targeted this event [800m] because no Thais have ever won it. I am extremely happy and proud of myself for making it.”
Seeking his first Paralympic gold, Saichon Konjen settled for the silver in the 800m-T54, finishing the race in 1:34.74min which bettered his time in London 2012, where he took the bronze.
Saichon in fact crossed the finish line in third place but second-placed Yassine Gharbi of Tunisia was disqualified.
The gold medal went to Marcel Hug (1:33.76) of Switzerland and the bronze to Kim Guy-Dae (1:34.98) of South Korea.
It was the second medal for Saichon in Rio after picking up the bronze in the 5,000m-T54. Saichon will compete in two more events.
Thailand also took the bronze medal in the 1,500m-T52 from Pichaya Kurattanasiri, who clocked 3:53.96min. Martin Raymond (3:40.63) of the US was the winner and Sato Tomoki (3.41.70) of Japan was 3rd.
“It is a great feeling to win the medal. This is a special gift for my father, who has been supporting me,” Pichaya said.
In boccia, world champion Worawut beat Jeong So-Yeong of South Korea 10-1 in the semi-finals to meet Watcharaphon for the gold in the mixed individual-BC2. Watcharaphon defeated Yan Zhiqiang of China in the other semi-final.
In the BC4, Pornchok Larpyen lost to Leung Yuk Wing of Hong Kong in the semi-finals, and will meet Seo Hyeon-Seok of South Korea in the bronze-medal contest.
Defending champion Pattaya Tadtong was beaten by David Smith of Great Britain in the quarter-finals of the mixed individual-BC1.
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