Author Topic: Thailand on top SEA Games  (Read 1152 times)


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Thailand on top SEA Games
« on: December 19, 2009, 10:34:20 PM »
Thailand on top

Kingdom's athletes hold off arch-rivals Vietnam to retain crown as Southeast Asia's sporting powerhouse

VIENTIANE : The party is over as Laos said goodbye to the first-ever SEA Games on their home soil with a spectacular closing ceremony at the National Stadium here last night.

Thailand won two gold medals yesterday in tennis and petanque to end the 10-day extravaganza with 86 golds and retain the overall title.

Petanque star Kallaya Cheerawan was champion in the women's triple, and tennis duo Varatchaya Wongteanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana took gold in the mixed doubles.

Thai athletes receive 200,000 baht from the government for a gold medal, 100,000 baht for a silver and 50,000 baht for a bronze.

Although the Thais retained the overall crown by beating second-placed Vietnam by three golds, they were left licking their wounds. They were well short of their target of winning 100 out of 375 gold medals in 25 sports.

Officials were disappointed by the teams overall performance and demanded explanations from concerned parties.Thai sports officials will try to find factors - or scapegoats - behind the failure.

Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kachornprasart, who oversees sports, was upset by Thailand's poor display.

"I am disappointed by our performances in many sports particularly football," said Maj Gen Sanan. "We will have to look into details to find out why athletes in many sports performed badly."

Thana Chaiprasit, Thailand's chief of delegation, had a similar view. "We were 14 gold medals short of our target, so it is not satisfactory," he said.

Gen Yutthasak Sasiprapha, president of the National Olympic Committee of Thailand, said that there were many factors behind Thailand's failure to meet the 100-gold target. Gen Yutthasak said several sports associations had sub-standard management.

"We have money and human resources to develop our athletes and we should use them to the maximum effect."

He said Thailand did not have enough information about their opponents so many sports associations made a wrong estimation about how many golds their athletes would win.

There were also too many regional sports that Thailand were not familiar with, Gen Yutthasak said. He said these disciplines - such as fin swimming, shuttlecock kicking and pencak silat - accounted for 30 percent of the number of sports at the Vientiane Games. "We are normally not keen on them," he said. "The number of these sports must be reduced."

However, the Thai Olympic chief argued that Thailand were still much better than other countries in internationally recognised sports.

The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) was the biggest loser in Vientiane as both its men's and women's squads failed to win gold. But while the title-holders women's team lost to Vietnam on penalties in the final, the eight-time defending champions men's side were knocked out in the first round. Needing just a draw against Malaysia in the final group game to advance to the semi-finals, Thailand went ahead only for Malaysia to strike twice in the last nine minutes including the winner in injury-time.

The Thai media and angry Thailand fans have heavily criticised coach Steve Darby and FAT president Worawi Makudi with many calling for their heads. "I'm not going to blame any player," said Darby after the shock elimination. "I take all responsibility." Worawi said he would assess his own performance but stopped short of saying whether he would quit as Thai football boss.

The women's team reportedly demanded that coach Freddy Marinho resign saying the Brazilian knew nothing about the players. They were reported to have issued a threat to pull out of the squad for the 2010 Women's Asian Cup if Marinho remains as coach.

Shooter Jakkrit Panichphatikam, who has been in conflict with the Shooting Association of Thailand, was sent home after a row with the team's manager.

Laos won praise from participants for the smooth organising of the country's first-ever international sports event. "It's good for a first-time host," said Thailand's delegation chief Thana. "They tried hard to make the Games a good one.There were only minor problems and the organisers were quick to solve them when they were informed about them," Thana said.

On the competition side, Laos enjoyed their best-ever SEA Games winning an unprecedented 33 golds. They won only five golds in the previous Games in Nakhon Ratchasima.

Somphou Phongsa, vice president of the Lao National Sports Committee, said that there were several reasons why Laos athletes were able to exceed their 25-gold target.

"We had a longer preparation this time round compared to the last SEA Games in Korat," he said. "Since then, we have hired foreign coaches to develop the athletes and this has greatly contributed to their overall improvement."

He admitted that Lao athletes enjoyed home-field advantage as local fans came out in large numbers to cheer them. For their efforts, a Lao gold medal winner will receive 30 million kip (120,000 baht) each. "From here, we will make sure that we continue on this upward scale," he said. "Now we have all the top class facilities, we should not let them go to waste."

The next SEA Games will be held in Indonesia in 2011. Sok Dee!

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