Thai windsurfing duo Siripon and Natthaphong hope to tame winds
TOKYO: Thai windsurfers Siripon Kaewduang-ngam and Natthaphong Phonoppharat hope to spring a surprise at the Tokyo Games.
The duo launch their Olympic campaigns at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour in Kanagawa Prefecture today.
The 26-year-old Siripon, a former Youth Olympic Games gold medallist, is making her second appearance at the Olympics after finishing 18th in women's RSX at the 2016 Rio Games, while Natthaphong, 22, is hoping to improve on his 29th place in the men's RSX in his Games debut five years ago.
After a week acclimatising to the conditions and venue, both hope to at least qualify in the top 10 and perhaps even challenge for a podium spot.
"We have spent time adjusting to the weather conditions. The winds are quite normal. Most of the time, the conditions are similar to Thailand, so we have not faced problems adjusting," said Natthaphong, a four-time SEA Games gold medallist and a silver medallist in the 2014 Asian Games.
To reserve a spot in the final round of 10 athletes, both racers need to secure a top-seven finish in each of the four-day heat races (July 25-26 and 28-29).
Only the top-10 finishers from each category will qualify for the final race on July 31.
"It will be very tough to win a medal. Deep in my heart, I am hoping to achieve that goal and bring a medal back as a gift for Thai people," Siripon said.
Complying with Covid-19 safety rules imposed by the host nation is not a problem, the Thai athletes said.