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Thais target big haul at Paralympics

Thais target big haul at Paralympics

PARALYMPICS: With the country’s largest-ever Games contingent, Thailand are hoping for their best-ever Paralympics performance at Tokyo 2020 which begins today (Aug 24).

By Bangkok Post

Tuesday 24 August 2021, 10:30AM

Thai wheelchair racer Pongsakorn Paeyo (second right) poses with his teammates ahead of the Paralympics in Tokyo. Photo: Bangkok Post

Thai wheelchair racer Pongsakorn Paeyo (second right) poses with his teammates ahead of the Paralympics in Tokyo. Photo: Bangkok Post

There are 74 Thai athletes in 14 sports in Tokyo including wheelchair racing, wheelchair fencing, boccia, table tennis and taekwondo.

Thailand enjoyed their most successful Paralympics at Rio 2016 where they won six gold, six silver and six bronze medals.

Chutinant Bhirombhakdi, president of the Paralympic Committee of Thailand, is confident that his athletes will better their Rio record.

“I am confident that our athletes will do better than the results of all previous Paralympics,” he said.

“I believe that our Paralympians will have good performances in Tokyo and better results than Rio.”

Chutinant said the Thai athletes, aided by better equipment and sports science, had trained for a long time.

While many Thai athletes are veterans, there are also a large number of new faces, he said.

Meanwhile, the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) has predicted the team will win around four to six golds in five disciplines at Tokyo 2020.

Among the best hopes are wheelchair racer Pongsakorn Paeyo, boccia star Watcharaphon Vongsa, table tennis athlete Rungroj Thainiyom, archer Anon Aungaphinan, and taekwondo exponent Khwansuda Phuangkitcha.

Pongsakorn won the 400m and 800m T53 events at the 2016 Games and aims to retain both titles.

“My main target is the 400m race,” he said. “I hope I can set a new world record after I did it at the Thailand championships earlier this year.”

Other medal hopefuls include wheelchair racer Prawat Wahoram, Thailand’s most decorated Paralympian with seven golds, wheelchair fencer Saysunee Jana, and badminton player Nipada Saensupa.

Thailand first took part in the Paralympics in 1984 and have since won 19 gold, 24 silver and 26 bronze medals.

Meanwhile, the Tokyo Paralympics’ opening ceremony will include the flag of Afghanistan as a “sign of solidarity” since athletes from the country will not be able to compete against their wishes, a top official said yesterday.

International Paralympic Committee chief Andrew Parsons told a press conference that “it’s important to highlight” that having the flag at the ceremony tonight will also be a message of “peace” to the rest of the world, given that Afghan athletes are unable to compete after the Taliban seized control of the country.

Parsons said a representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees will carry the flag.

Two athletes from Afghanistan, female para-taekwondo athlete Zakia Khudadadi and male track athlete Hossain Rasouli, were expected to compete at the Paralympics, involving up to about 4,400 participants from roughly 160 countries and regions.

The Paralympics will run through Sept 5 amid the coronavirus pandemic following a one-year postponement. 

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