Thailand expect to reap 17 gold medals at the 18th Asian Games as the country plans to spend Bt137.9 million to send athletes to the competition, which runs from August 18 to September 2 in Indonesia.
Somphorn Wannasriri, Director of Sports Science Department said on behalf of Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) that Thailand will send 830 athletes (445 male and 385 female) to take part in the 426-gold medal Games in Jakarta and Palembang.
“After having assessments with sports associations, we hope to win 17 golds, 15 silvers and 28 bronzes from 46 sport disciplines,” said Somphon during a Meet the Press conference yesterday at SAT Complex in Hua Mark.
The Kingdom has set its highest target of four gold medals from the pet favourite sepak takraw, plus two each from sailing and rowing. Other sports such as cycling, bowling, pencak silat, jiu jitsu, weight lifting and taekwondo are expected to yield one gold medal each.
“We have set a budget of over Bt700 for a four-year preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics which is also used to prepare athletes for this Asiad. We hope to achieve more golds than last time in South Korea,” the SAT representative said.
Thailand won a haul of 12 gold medals from the Incheon Games four years ago and finished sixth in the medal tally, the best position of all the Asean Countries.
Thai Cycling Association Technical Deputy Chairman Nutthapong Lohitnavy rated Vipavee Deekaballes, the 16th Asian Championships Downhill winner, as the best gold medal prospect for the Thai cycling team in the downhill event.
Thailand won two cycling golds four years ago, through Jutathip Maneephan (road race) and Amanda Carr (BMX).
“As the conditions of the route in Indonesia don’t suit Jutathip’s style, we have moved her to compete in the omnium instead,” Nutthapong said. “We expect a lot from Vipavee but the host cyclist will be the heavy favourites as they are used to the routes, especially the hilly conditions over the last 16km.”
Carr, the American-Thai sweetheart who was one of the most popular Asian Games athletes among Thai fans in 2016, will not compete this time due to unforeseen circumstances.