Cyclist Jai wins Thai hearts with historic triumph

Cyclist Jai wins Thai hearts with historic triumph

Women's spikers make amends for disappointments in boxing ring

Jai Angsuthasawit (left) and Yudai Nitta of Japan (right) in action during the Men's Keirin Track Cycling event at the Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta on Friday. (EPA-EFE photo)
Jai Angsuthasawit (left) and Yudai Nitta of Japan (right) in action during the Men's Keirin Track Cycling event at the Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta on Friday. (EPA-EFE photo)

Cyclist Jai Angsuthasawit shed tears as he wrapped the national flag around his shoulders after ending Thailand's four-day gold-medal drought at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia on Friday.

Jai, a 23-year-old Thai-Australian, made history for the Kingdom by becoming their first-ever Asian Games gold medallist in track cycling after powering his way to the front in a photo-finish in the keirin event.

Apart from Jai's triumph, the Thai women's volleyball team put on a brilliant display to tame mighty South Koreans in the semi-finals and a female boxer staked a claim for the gold as the Thai gold-medal haul reached double figures at Jakarta Palembang 2018.

The Thai sailors also produced three bronze medals on Friday.

Jai is no stranger to winning on the big stage as he previously competed in track cycling for Australia, including at the 2013 World Championships in Glasgow where he won gold in the junior team sprint.

Last September, he chose to start representing Thailand.

Japan's Nitta Yudai took the silver, crossing the finish line only 0.003 seconds slower than Jai.

There was disappointment for Malaysian ace Azizulhasni Awang who settled for bronze a day after shaving off his moustache to celebrate a sprint gold.

"I just went into it as strong as I could and I came out lucky," Jai told AFP.

"Very unexpected. Was confident to get a medal but not gold. Halfway through the race I had energy in my legs and I went for it.

"I want to go to the World Cups and World Championships. And I want to stay in the Thailand team for as long as I can."

Meanwhile, Nichpa Waiwai and Kamonchanok Klahan gave Thailand a sailing bronze after finishing behind the winning pair from Singapore and second-placed Indians in the women's 49er FX event.

Siripon Kaewduang-ngam claimed third place in women's in RSX competition, which was won by China's Chen Peina with Chan Hei Man of Hong Kong taking silver.

Navee Thamsoontorn and Nut Butmarasri settled for bronze in the men's 470 event that eventually turned out to be a two-horse race between sailors from Japan and China, who bagged the gold and silver respectively.

Although Thailand were assured of another five bronze medals being officially added to their total today, there is no hiding the fact that it was a disappointing day for the Kingdom's fighters in the ring as only Sudaporn Seesondee (women's 60kg) made it to the finals.

Wuttichai Masuk fought below his normal standards in the first two rounds as he failed to defend his title on Friday. The Buriram native's lacklustre show in the men's 64kg semi-finals ended in a 3-2 loss to Chinzorig Baatarsukh of Mongolia.

In the other men's semi-finals on Friday, Yuttapong Tongdee (52kg), Rujakran Juntrong (60kg) and Saylom Ardee (69kg) also lost.

After Sudaporn defeated Huswatun Hasanah of Indonesia, another Thai women's boxer Nilawan Techasuep (57kg) was outpointed 5-0 by Yin Junhua of China with ease.

Sudaporn will face Oh Yeon-Ji of South Korea in the gold medal bout today.

The Thai women's speak takraw quadrant team beat Laos 2-0 in Friday's semi-final to set up a final battle with the host country on Saturday.


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