KUALA LUMPUR – SEA Games perennial power house Thailand are determined to mount a strong challenge in track and field events against host Malaysia during the upcoming 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games (KL2017) next month by setting a 14-gold medal target.
Thailand athletics team manager Suchart Singhaklang said their gold medal hopes will hinge on the men’s 4x100m, 4x400m, javelin, decathlon as well as women’s discus throw and pole vault.
He said the target was lower than the previous edition’s achievement of 17 gold medals in Singapore due to the increasing challenge from neighbours Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia.
Meanwhile, for the 100m and 200m sprint events, he said 2013 Myanmar SEA Games triple gold medallist in 100m, 200m and 4x100m events, Jirapong Meenapra and youngster Siripol Punpa, who bagged gold at the ASEAN School Games in Singapore on Saturday, would challenge Malaysian sprint king, Khairul Hafiz Jantan for the title of SEA Games sprint king.
“All our athletes are currently training in Bangkok and participating in many local competitions in Thailand,” he told reporters when met during the 94th Malaysian Open Athletics Championship at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium here, today.
About 266 athletes from nine countries, including Laos, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and the Philippines took part in the two days championship, which is also known as pre-SEA Games tournament to test the equipment, venue and technical officials before hosting the biennial Games from Aug 19-30.
When asked about the newly refurbished stadium, Singhaklang who initially praised the infrastructure and facilities however, admitted that the new mondo track was too soft and that his athletes were not familiar with such conditions.
“We need to start to train on the soft track for the next one month to be ready for the SEA Games. Many of our athletes, including Jirapong couldn’t join this event because they are tired after competing in too many local competitions and hard training in Thailand,” he said.
In the 2015 Singapore and 2013 Myanmar SEA Games, Thailand led the athletics medal tally with 17 gold, 13 silver and nine bronze, while at the 2011 edition in Indonesia, the Thai’s claimed 14-9-9 medals to lead the tally. – BERNAMA