The 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro came to a spectacular conclusion yesterday morning (Aug 22) Thai time, with the Kingdom finishing tied for 35th in the medal standings.
Thailand had 54 athletes in 17 sports at the Rio Games. The country won two gold, two silver and two bronze medals, all in weightlifting and taekwondo.
The successful weightlifters were champions Sopita Tanasan and Sukanya Srisurat, silver medal winner Pimsiri Sirikaew and bronze medallist Sinhpet Kruaithong, while the medal winning taekwondo fighters were runner-up Tawin Harnprab and third-placed Panipak Wongpattanakit.
With five participants in Rio, the Thailand Boxing Association (TBA) suffered an embarrassing campaign finishing without their fighters picking up a single medal.
It was the first time that Thailand have failed to win a medal in the sport since boxer Payao Poontarat became the Kingdom’s first ever Olympic medallist when he claimed a bronze at the 1976 Montreal Games.
TBA president Pichai Junhavajira apologised to compatriots for the failure and vowed that his athletes would make a strong comeback in Tokyo.
“I am sorry that we failed to win a medal,” he said.
“We failed because of many factors and we will work harder to become better in the next Olympics.”
He said he would make changes to the coaching structure and try to encourage young boxers to hone their skills to a higher standard.
“We now have about 50 boxers aged 13-17 years old who could be national fighters in the future,” he said.
While it was the first time that the taekwondo squad won more than one medal in a single Olympics, it also failed to win the country’s first ever gold in the sport.
Taekwondo Association of Thailand president Pimol Srivikorn said: “We failed to win gold this time and we will try again in the next Olympics. I believe we have a chance to win gold in Tokyo.”
He said Tawin and Panipak, as well as Phannapa Harnsujin who finished empty-handed in Rio, are still young and would remain as the core of the national team.
“Judging from their performances in Rio, they can improve,” Pimol said.
Maj Gen Intarat Yodbangtoey, an adviser to the Thai Amateur Weightlifting Association (Tawa), said the athletes will return to training after a few week’s break as preparations for the 2020 Olympics will soon begin.
At the Rio tournament, Thailand enjoyed the best medal haul among the 11 Asean nations.
Indonesia, who will host the 2018 Asian Games, got one gold (badminton mixed doubles) and two silvers (both in weightlifting).
Vietnam claimed one gold and one silver (both in shooting), while Singapore earned their first-ever Olympic gold medal from swimmer Joseph Schooling.
Malaysia, who will organise next year’s SEA Games, took home four silver and one bronze medals while the Philippines received one silver in taekwondo.
Maj Gen Charouck Arirachakaran, secretary-general of the National Olympic Committee of Thailand, said he was satisfied that his prediction that the Kingdom would win two gold medals proved correct.
While he praised the Tawa for winning four medals, he was disappointed by athletes in some sports who failed to live up to expectation.
“For our boxers to make a return to glory, we need changes,” he said.
“Our boxing coaches are not qualified in terms of both tactics and bringing out the best from the athletes.”
Meanwhile, the government will organise a reception party for the Thai Olympic contingent at Government House on Friday (Aug 26).
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