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Athletes eye ticket to Beijing

Twelve Thai athletes left on Monday for the Asian Indoor Athletics Championships in Qatar, with hopes of clinching Olympic berths in three more disciplines.

Published on February 13, 2008

The championships, which will serve as a qualifier for the Beijing Olympics in several disciplines, including triple jump and shot put, will be held from February 14 to 16.

Four Thai women athletes - Juthamas Thaworncharoen in the 100m, Buaban Pamang in javelin, Wasana Winatho in heptathlon and Nungruethai Chaipetch in high jump - have already secured berths for the Beijing Games in August.

Pol Maj-General Surapong Ariyamongkol, secretary-general of the Athletic Association of Thailand and head of the Thai contingent said: "We have pinned our hopes on our athletes performing beyond our expectations in Qatar.

"Just two weeks after the conclusion of the SEA Games in Nakhon Ratchasima, all of the Thai athletes, including the women's quartet, had started intensive training in preparation for the event.

"Wasana is due to take part in four disciplines including pentathlon, 60m hurdles and long jump. I hope that she will shine again as she did in the SEA Games, where she won three gold medals," Surapong said.

Thitima Muangchan, who produced the gold-medal leap of 13.85m in the women's triple jump, is also expected to make her mark in the championships.

"If Thitima jumps around 14m in Qatar, she will fulfil her dreams of joining the Beijing contingent. Nongnuch Sanrat, women's 60m title-holder and two-time gold medallist in the Asian Indoor Games, is confident of repeating the feat.

"Apart from Thitima, Juthaporn Krasaeyan [in the women's shot put] and the women's 4x400m relay team are our hopes in the championships.

"In fact, winning as many medals as we can is not our top priority. If they return with improved performances, that would be a great success. However, it will be a big bonus if they return with more medals," he said.

Thai athletes will also participate in the men's 400m, triple jump, long jump, the women's 60m, shot put, 60m hurdles and 4x400m relay.

Preechachan Wiriyanupappong

The Nation

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