Boccia star Watcharaphon has eyes set on Paris '24

Boccia star Watcharaphon has eyes set on Paris '24

Thai Paralympians are welcomed at a ceremony after arriving in Phuket from Tokyo on Wednesday.
Thai Paralympians are welcomed at a ceremony after arriving in Phuket from Tokyo on Wednesday.

Boccia star Watcharaphon Vongsa aims to win his fourth successive gold medal in the team event at the 2024 Paris Paralympics.

The 30-year-old and his teammates arrived in Phuket from the Tokyo Games on Wednesday to enter 14-day quarantine as required by the government's Covid-19 protocols.

They were the last group of Thai athletes to return from Tokyo where the Kingdom won five gold, five silver and eight bronze medals.

They were welcomed by officials, including Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) governor Gongsak Yodmani, and well-wishers in the southern resort province.

One of Thailand's most decorated Paralympians, Watcharaphon has four gold medals in his collection from three Games.

He claimed gold in the team BC1-2 event with Worawut Saengampa, Witsanu Huadpradit and Subin Tipmanee, and silver in the individual BC2 category at Tokyo 2020.

Watcharaphon shot to fame at the 2012 Games in London where he brought home the team BC1-2 gold. He also won gold in the same event as well as the individual BC2 title at Rio 2016.

The Loei native admitted yesterday it would be difficult for him to win a fourth straight gold in the team BC1-2 event at Paris 2024 as opponents from several countries, particularly Japan and China, have made fast progress.

"I will work hard and fight to my best for all Thais," he said.

Other athletes who arrived in Phuket yesterday included Watcharaphon's boccia teammates and badminton player Sujirat Pookkham, who bagged one silver and one bronze as the sport made its Games debut in Tokyo.

The medallists will get a total of 114.6 million baht as reward from the government.

Under the National Sports Development Fund's bonus scheme for Paralympians, a champion gets 7.2 million baht, a silver winner 4.8 million baht, and a bronze medallist three million baht.

Their coaches and associations will also get separate bonuses in accordance with their athletes' performances.

With five gold, five silver and eight bronze medals, Thailand were 25th in the medal standings at Tokyo.

Wheelchair racer Pongsakorn Paeyo was the country's most successful athlete at Tokyo with three gold medals and will receive 21.6 million baht from the government. The other Thai champion was Athiwat Paeng-Nuea, also a wheelchair racer.

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