Defending champion Wuttichai Masuk is thinking of nothing but the gold medal as he prepares for his Asian Games light welterweight semi-final in Indonesia this evening.
The 28-year-old from Buri Ram has emerged as Thailand’s biggest hope for boxing gold after countryman Chathcai Butdee lost his quarter-final on Wednesday after sustaining a bad cut eye.
Wuttichai, a two-time Asian Championships gold medallist (in 2009 and 2015), moved past Kazakh Bekdaulet Ibragimov 4-1 to secure his third straight Asian Games semi-final berth since Guangzhou 2010.
“I’m so happy to have a medal every time I come to the Asian Games. It’s more than I could ever imagine,” he said, adding that the swelling on his forehead sustained during that fight had subsided.
Wuttichai, who took home the bronze in the 2010 Games, is determined to retain his title on Saturday but first he has to get rid of his long-standing Mongolian rival Chinzorig Baatarsukh, who whipped him 5-0 in the final round of the Thailand Open last month.
“If I hadn’t been confident about my chances, I wouldn’t have come to the Asian Games,” said Wuttichai, who beat Baatarsukh 3-0 in the Asian Federation Championship in 2015 and 3-0 in the Taipei City Cup in 2013.
Five other Thais have also made it to the semi-finals and are thus guaranteed at least a bronze medal.
The three men in action are flyweight Yuttapong Thongdee, lightweight Rujakran Juntrong and welterweight Saylom Ardee, who is into his first Asiad semi-final.
On the women’s side, lightweight Sudaporn Seesondee has the toughest challenge – she is up against home fighter Huswatun Dasanah, while featherweight Nilawan Techasuep will be the last Thai in the ring.
With Thailand having bagged just nine gold medals, eight short of the pre-Games target, boxing is the country’s biggest hope of a golden finale.
The women’s sepak takraw quadrant team are already into the semi-finals and are expected to secure Thailand’s 10th gold tomorrow.
In athletics, Parinya Chuaimroeng won a silver medal in women's triple jump. The Thai track and field team finished the Games with three silvers (Suttisak Singkhon in men's decathlon and Chayanisa Chomchuendee in women's pole vault) and a bronze in men's pole vault by Patsapong Amsam Ang