02 November 2003

Fighters eye golds after long drought

Hosts Vietnam will be going all out to foil Thailand's efforts to clinch gold medals in pencak silat at the 22nd SEA Games in December_ but Thailand's national head coach Kampanat Keandamrongchaim says that they will be in for a surprise.

"We haven't been able to manage a (SEA Games) gold medal since the Chiang Mai Games in 1995, but since clinching a gold medal in the Busan Asian Games last year, when pencak silat was a demonstration sport, our athletes are in a confident mood and are up for the challenge," said Kampanat.

The martial art has only a minority following, so this is the first time that Thailand will be fielding a complete team of 16 fighters.

What makes it all the more interesting, according to Kampanat, is the fact that the current squad all hold bachelor degrees, as in the past most athletes were recruited from the Army.

"Taking everything into account, I am pretty certain that we can look for four or five gold medals if the athletes stay injury free and we have no problems with the judging, " said former national star Kampanat, who expects the main challenge to come from Vietnam.

The Thai team's biggest drawback is lack of competitive experience, he added.

Unlike other nations who have been competing in other countries, the Thais have only been training at home due to a low budget for travelling expenses.

Written by YVONNE BOHWONGPRASERTSourced from http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-24880578_ITM

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