The Thailand Boxing Association (TBA) is eyeing two gold medals in the Asian Games, with Chatchai Butdee in the 56kg category and Sudaporn Seesondee in the women’s 60kg its likeliest contenders to stand on top of the podium.
The Kingdom will send seven male and three female fighters to Indonesia, hoping to improve on four years ago, when it finished with just Wuttichai Masuk’s gold in the 64kg and a bronze from Apichet Saensit in the 64kg.
TBA Technical Committee president Somchai Poolsavasdi predicted two golds in Jakarta and reminded his athletes that in order to fulfill their Olympic dreams, they needed to win the Asiad first.
“Boxing in Asia is one of the toughest in the world. Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, China and India all have powerful boxers in the world,” Somchai said on Thursday. “So I keep telling my boxers ‘You need to win the Asian Games first if you want to win the Olympics’ ”.
Somchai also said the technical aspect had been the main focus of the training in the lead-up to the Games.
“They have been trained how to score points and how not to foul. Boxing is an eye-judging sport, so they need to know techniques that will earn them scores,” he added.
While Wuttichai is still rated a medal prospect by the team, he is reported to have an injury that may lessen his chance of retaining his title.
“As an athlete, you always have hope once you step on the ring. I can’t guarantee if I can do it again but I will give my all,” said Wuttichai, who also won bronze at the 2012 Games.
Chatchai, winner of the 2015 Asian Championships and 2017 SEA Games, has been touted as the heavy favourite among Thais despite two back-to-back first round defeats in the 2012 and 2014 Games.
“My goal at this point is to first move past the first round and then I will set my next goal,” said the 33-year-old, who has been in great form and won the King’s Cup in Bangkok last month.
On the women’s side, Sudaporn, the 2014 World Championships bronze medalist, has been praised by national coach Juan Fontanils as the most improved female boxer with great potential to cause an upset in Indonesia.