'Thais never yield easily'
Princess delivers inspirational speech to athletes as Games begin
HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn delivered a rousing speech to athletes led by Olympic Committee president General Yuthasak Sasiprapa, as Thailand prepared to enter competition at the London Olympics.
"I'm glad to see you all here," said the Princess, greeting the athletes' delegation after granting them an audience at the Holiday Inn in London on Thursday.
"You are representatives of Thailand, and I hope and trust that you will uphold the values and way of life that all Thais hold dear. Thais are always generous to others and helpful. I believe you all can maintain these good virtues."
"You have been training hard and I hope you will do your best," she said. "Win or lose, it's a sporting competition. You must just try your best, and everyone supporting you at home will understand that you have given your all. I hope everyone will keep this ethic in mind.
"Competing in the Olympic Games here, you will gain valuable experience as well as make new friends. Taking up sport will help improve your life. I wish you all success and smooth-sailing in your future life.
"Thai people have never yielded easily. I hope you all feel the same. I wish you great success here."
After delivering her words of inspiration, the Princess invited the delegation to pose with her for photos.
Lifters face formidable China
Panida Khamsri and Siriwimon Pramongkol enter the ExCeL arena in London today on a quest for Thailand's first gold medal of the Olympics.
But the Thai duo face a mighty obstacle in the women's 48kg weightlifting, in the form of China's Wang Mingjuan, who landed world titles in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2009 and has broken several world records in the category.
The weightlifting competition gets underway at 9.30pm Bangkok time, with a field of 14 athletes from 12 countries competing in the women's 48kg event.
With Wang so dominant in the class, Thai head coach Apinya Dutthuyawat has lowered her sights from the gold but says Thailand has a good chance of clinching a first medal in the competition. "Wang's record is 10kg better than Panida's. [But] I think Panida and Siriwimon have a fighting chance to win silver and bronze medals," said Apinya.
Chinese weightlifters will bid to replicate their performance on home soil in Beijing four years ago.
China topped the medal table in 2008, claiming eight of the 15 golds on offer and one silver in an awesome display of lifting across the board.
Some 260 athletes, 156 men and 104 women, will once again compete for the 15 medals at the ExCel arena.
The two competition lifts in order are the snatch, and the clean and jerk, with each lifter entitled to three attempts in each.
The combined total of the highest two successful lifts determines the overall result within a bodyweight category.
The men compete in the -56, 62, 69, 77, 85, 94, 105 and +105kg categories and the women at -48, 53, 58, 63, 69, 75 and +75kg.
The Chinese women's team took four gold medals at the Beijing Olympics in the 48kg, 58kg, 69kg and 75kg categories, but Chinese Weightlifting Association president Ma Wenguang has attempted to lower expectations for the London Games.
"We do have advantage in the light categories such as 48kg and 53kg, but there are not enough top lifters in each categories. If we have two or three in every division, I will be more satisfied," Ma said.
The women's super-heavyweight category saw the absence of South Korea's reigning Olympic champion Jang Mi-Ran in the worlds after she struggled to battle injury and regain form.
While sidelined, younger lifters have stepped up and set world records in her +75kg division, Russian Tatiana Kashirina in the snatch (148kg) and China's world champion Zhou Lulu in the total (328kg).
"Obviously, I don't have fond memories of 2011," said Jang, one of the most decorated female weightlifters in history having also won four world titles and the Asian Games.
"But I think I can accomplish my dream if I can stick to the programme."
Chinese men's weightlifting coach Chen Wenbin said he was happy with the controversial selection policy that has seen just one of the four male gold medallists from Beijing return to the London Olympics.
Only Lu Yong made the cut from the quartet that topped podiums on home soil four years ago.
"It's not a big problem because we have lifters like Wu Jingbiao and Zhang Jie who competed at the 2011 Asian Games and did very well," said Chen.
"Our lifters have experience of big competitions, all this is familiar to them."