Senior sports official eyes 2 golds for Thai athletes in Beijing

2008-07-26 04:58:59 GMT       2008-07-26 12:58:59 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

BANGKOK, July 26 (Xinhua) -- Surawut Budhmaharom, the chairman of the Thai athletes preparatory committee, has predicted that the Kingdom will win at least two gold medals in the upcoming Beijing Olympics.

Surawut believes that boxing, taekwondo and weightlifting are the three sports where the athletes stand a good chance of winning medals and he is confident that they will return with 8-10 medals, according to The Nation newspaper on Saturday.

According to Surawut, welterweight Nont Boonjumnong could be the country's best boxing bet rather than Somjit Jongjohor or Athens gold medallist Manus Boonjumnong.

"Flyweight Somjit and light welterweight Manus were classified as our medal prospects. However, history shows us that medal hopefuls have usually faltered at the tournament. So, I regard Nontas our dark horse, because he is a talented fighter," he said.

In weightlifting, Surawut is banking on Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon to deliver the goods in the women's 53kg category.

"Premsiri Boonpitak and Pensiri Laosirikul face stiff competition from the hosts' athletes in the 48kg category, while Wandee Kamiem, who won bronze in Athens, is a bit old and the male counterparts were relatively less experienced. So Praphawadee appears to be our best hope."

Even though taekwondo exponents Chatchawal Khawlaor, Chonnapas Premwaew and Buttree Puedpong will be making only their first Olympic appearance, Surawut was positive.

"We can hope for one gold from taekwondo. The three may be new faces but they have shown steady improvement in the past years. If the draw is favorable, they will have a good chance," he was quoted as saying.

A total of 51 athletes will march to Beijing early next month. All the 51 athletes include 15 in track and field, eight boxers, seven weightlifters, five shooters, four in badminton, three in taekwondo, two each in fencing, sailing and swimming and one each in tennis, table tennis and cycling.

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