Less than a month earlier, one of the school’s surfers left for the Philippines to represent Thailand in the SEA Games in the Philippines.
They headed off to competition full of hope and confidence, dreaming of medals. They returned home with handfuls of hardware, making their parents, school, coaches and countries proud.
Annie Jain, who is in Grade 12 at UWC Thailand, returns to Phuket with three gold medals and a new national record for India. Her first gold came in the 4 x100m freestyle relay, the second in the 100m breaststroke in a time of 1:13.50, which is a new national record for India, and a third in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay. She followed up her golds with a bronze in the 100m freestyle.
Annie also holds three Indian national short course records. Living in the boarding house at UWC Thailand, a World Academy of Sport Athlete-Friendly Education Centre (AFEC), allows Annie to balance her six-hour training days with Miguel Lopez at Thanyapura Health & Sports Resort with the rigour of the IB Diploma Programme.
This AFEC designation means that Annie can complete the two-year Diploma Programme over three years, so she never has to choose between competing at an international level and completing her education.
Aniqah Gafoor, a Grade 10 student at UWC Thailand, not only brought home Silver and Bronze for Sri Lanka, but also smashed the country’s national women’s relay record by more than 15 seconds, coming in at 4:00.18 to bag the Silver. Aniqah also earned a Bronze in the 100m butterfly.
When interviewed at the games Aniqah modestly understated that the relay that crowned them the new national record-holding team, “was overall really good.” Aniqah currently holds the Sri Lankan national record for both the 50m and 100m fly and has her sights set on qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Jehanra Nabi, also in Grade 10 at UWC Thailand, just missed the podium this year, coming in fourth in the 400m relay, 800m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 800m freestyle relay, and 400m melody. She holds four national records for Pakistan in the women’s 4 x 50, 4 x100 freestyle and the 4 x 50 and 4 x100 medley. Her fine efforts did not go unnoticed, however, and it is regarded as merely a matter of time before she is joining her colleagues amongst the medals.
Meanwhile, representing Thailand at the SEA Games in the Philippines, Sittiphong ‘Henry’ Chapman bagged a Bronze medal, beating his own Thai teammate Chatchai Somporn in the final heat with an 8-point score. To qualify for the bronze heat, he successfully beat the number one Filipino surfer on his home turf. Henry has ranked as Thailand’s Champion Surfer for the last three years running.
This was the first time surfing had been included in the SEA Games and so the victory represents a number of firsts for Henry and the Thai team. He became the first Thai surfer to medal and the only Junior surfer under 18 in the competition.
In preparation, Henry and six of the best surfers from Thailand representing the Thailand Surfing Federation, spent a month training on the local beaches with the support of his teachers and classmates at UWC Thailand, where Henry has studied since he was 7. The team bonded quickly and its success surprised the Thai Sport’s Authority as they have only been a team for eight short months.
On his medal-winning journey, Henry remarked “I was a bit slow in starting but as I got more confident in the heats, I got better and better. It was hard to manage the waves because of the Typhoon, it required a lot more paddling and diving and avoiding the rocks, but I still managed to do something good.”