Thailand fall 20 golds short of target
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Thailand fall 20 golds short of target

SAT chief sees many positives in debacle

Left  Sprinter Puripol Boonson poses after winning the men's 100m gold medal. (Photo: AFP)
Left  Sprinter Puripol Boonson poses after winning the men's 100m gold medal. (Photo: AFP)

Thailand won 92 gold medals to finish second in the overall standings at the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam which ended last night.

The hosts ran away with the overall title winning a record haul of 205 golds which beat Indonesia's previous mark of 194 set on home soil in 1997.

Although Thailand were a distant second in Vietnam, Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) governor Gongsak Yodmani said he was pleased with his athletes' efforts.

He argued that the Thais did very well in several "international sports" particularly athletics, swimming, tennis, badminton and table tennis.

The SAT had projected that the Thai contingent would win 112 gold medals including 72 in international sports.

Above  Badminton star Kunlavut Vitidsarn in action during the men's singles final. (Photo: Reuters)

However, Gongsak did not say yesterday how many gold medals Thailand won in international sports at the Vietnam Games.

"We will later assess the overall performance to use in our preparations for the 32nd SEA Games to be held in Cambodia in 2023," he said.

He said Thailand and some other countries would push for the SEA Games to be an event which mainly features international sports.

Host nations typically include local sports or events in which they perform well, helping them clinch numerous golds but leading to criticism that it detracts from the prestige of the competition.

At the 31st edition, there were 40 sports offering more than 500 gold medals.

Meanwhile, the Sports Reporters-Photographers Association of Thailand (SRPT) revealed the successful and failed sports associations at the Games.

Tennis player Luksika Kumkhum wins the women's singles title. (Photo: Reuters)

Ahead of the tournament, the SRPT organised five meet-the-press events where sports associations said they would win a combined 116 gold medals.

"They aimed to win 116 gold medals but the Thai athletes could only win 92 gold medals -- 24 less than the projection," said SRPT chief Paitoon Chutimakorn.

The associations which surpassed their targets were weightlifting (won six gold medals), sepak takraw (six), taekwondo (five), swimming (four), table tennis (four), tennis (four), badminton (four), petanque (four), cycling (three), gymnastics (three), and pencak silat (two), according to Patioon.

The associations which met their targets were athletics (12), bodybuilding (three), judo (three), volleyball (two), and snooker (one).

Snooker champion Wattana Pu-ob-orm and his mother.

"The most disappointing association was probably the Football Association of Thailand which aimed to win four gold medals but could only win two in the men and women's futsal events while the men and women's football teams both lost to Vietnam and missed out on both golds," Paitoon said.

"Also, the golf association aimed to sweep all four gold medals but could only get two."

Thailand failed to claim a single medal in four sports -- skeet shooting, Chinese chess, finswimming and triathlon.

Pride of Kingdom

Several Thai athletes, young and old, were successful at the 31st SEA Games.

Teenage sprinter Puripol Boonson was one of the brightest stars of the tournament.

Swimmer Jenjira Srisa-ard reacts after winning the 50m buttlerfly final. (Photo: Reuters)

The 16-year-old completed a hat-trick of sprint titles -- the men's 100m and 200m and 4x100m relay -- in his Games debut.

He twice broke the Games 200m record, his best time of 20.37secs sealing his first gold.

"My target for this year is that I will try to consistently improve my record and break my own record," Puripol said.

Teammate Joshua Robert Atkinson, 19, got four gold medals in the men's 400m, 800m and 4x400 relay and mixed 4x400m relay.

Badminton star Kunlavut Vitidsarn stunned Singapore's world champion Loh Kean Yew in the men's singles final.

Tennis star Luksika Kumkhum secured her second SEA Games gold medal in the women's singles.

Swimmer Jenjira Srisa-ard bagged two gold medals in the women's 50m freestyle and butterfly events.

Snooker star Wattana Pu-ob-orm, 53, won his first SEA Games gold medal.

"I waited 35 years for this," said former world No.3.

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