Thai Paralympic athletes shine at international level
Thailand national team wheelchair racers are some of the most talented in the world given their brilliant performances at the Paralympic Games.
Thus, it comes as no surprise that the U-23 national squad clinched seven hard-earned medals in wheelchair racing at the Bahrain 2021 Asian Youth Para Games late last year.
Hyatfah Chuiaui, the only female to qualify for the event, won two gold medals in both the 200m and 1,500m races. Athiwat Paeng-nuea grabbed four golds in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m races while Phatthanachai Srikamwiang brought home one bronze medal in 800m.
The medallists represented the provinces of Sakon Nakhon, Khon Kaen and Ubon Ratchathani. Head coach Supot Phengpoom said the youngsters, two of whom are 19, had the discipline to work hard and fight off competition from Asia's top challengers.
He said the tactical plan was simply for them to go out there and do their best while keeping errors to a minimum. There was no pressure to win medals, but rather to accumulate match experience, which is an integral part of their eventual success in the sport.
Sharing his delight over the tournament outcome, Supot remarked: "While these athletes have been competing in wheelchair racing for a while now, not all of them went through proper training until recently when they entered our camp programme.
"Six gold medals and a bronze have been an awesome feat and I wholeheartedly credit this to their perseverance and determination. Most of these youths are from lower- to middle-class families and have a deep desire to follow in the footsteps of their senior Paralympics counterparts that have succeeded in bringing fame and fortune to their families. They share common life struggles and thus their desire to use their talent to have financial stability is one of the many forces driving them to perfection."
Supot said Athiwat is only 19 but already has a star-studded portfolio, having won a gold and silver at the 2020 Paralympics in Japan. Meanwhile, the other athletes have picked up accolades at the national level.
"I worked hard on my technique and thanks to the support of my coaches, I was able to beat my opponents. I hope to qualify and win medals at the Paralympics one day. Winning in Bahrain has gotten me on track," Hyatfah said.