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Natthanan is the queen of the pool

Thailand have unearthed a gem in swimmer Natthanan Junkrajang, who ended her campaign with a magnificent 10-medal haul in the 36th National Games yesterday.

Published on September 22, 2007


[NATIONAL GAMES] Runaway leaders Bangkok, who dominate the standings with 82 gold medals, ruled the pool on the final day of swimming competition, clinching all six medals on offer, which helped them win an incredible 30 of the 40 events.

The day belonged to 21-year-old Natthanan, who enhanced her credentials by winning 10 out of the 11 events she contested, an unrivalled feat that merited queen-of-the-pool status.

Of the two successes Natthanan had yesterday, victory in the women's 200m freestyle was the more impressive as she consigned established star Pailin Taechakritthiranan, who held the national championships' record in the event, to second spot in a thrilling race.

Natthanan was merely conserving her energy in the qualifying heat, where she came fifth to put her in lane two for the final.

However, she handed team-mate Pailin a lesson that being the fastest in the heats is no guarantee to victory. It looked as if Natthanan was heading towards an easy win in the first 100m of the stretch when she lead Pailin by half a body length.

Much to the gritty Pailin's credit, she cranked up the speed in the final phase of the race. She even appeared ahead of Natthanan at one stage in an entertaining duel which brought the capacity crowd to their feet.

However, Natthana still had much left in her tank and eventually managed to edge out Pailin by a second. "Pailin's presence in the final made me nervous before the race, as our personal records are very close," said a beaming Natthanan.

"She [Pailin] reached the turn at the 150m mark ahead of me and surged ahead. I told myself I could not lose this, so I put all my best into the final 50m. Fortunately, it paid off.

"I never expected that I would win 10 gold medals, even in my wildest dreams. I just hoped I could win six gold, as was the case in Suphan Buri," said Natthanam, grinning from ear to ear. If the pool was a gold mine for the capital team, the rowing competition was the same for Chiang Mai, who sealed five out of six gold medals at stake on the day. The northerners, who stayed in overall second spot with 25 gold medals, scooped 10 golds out of the possible 14 in the sport.

A total of 41 gold medals are available today, with the highlight being the rhythmic gymnastic events.

Kitinan Sanguansak

 The Nation

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