THAILAND’S Puripol Boonson knows the only way to Asian supremacy is to put in the hours on the track.
The Vietnam SEA Games triple gold medallist, who is only 16, knows he can only get faster in the years to come and feels no pressure.
Puripol won the blue riband event of the SEA Games, the men’s 100m sprint, in a time of 10.44s, beating out fellow Thai Soraoat Dapbang and Singapore’s Marc Bryan Louis.
What made his performance more impressive was that the lanky Puripol was slow off the starting block but managed to catch up and pull away towards the end.
A good start could have led to an even better timing.
With South-East Asia conquered by winning the 100m and 200m races, he is now eyeing the Hangzhou Asian Games, which has been postponed to next year.
“The poor start got me worried, but I gave it my all. This is a good outing and one that I will not forget. Now, I have to train harder to ensure I can be among the best in Asia,” he said.
“I know I can break my 200m record again and hopefully dip below 10s in the 100m. Age is on my side. But I need to work, run, train and push myself.
“Maybe, I have to make changes to my training regimen and get my coaches to work on ways to be faster. It’s onwards and upwards for me.”
Puripol had earlier won the 200m gold in 20.37s, smashing the 23-year-old Games record of 20.69 set at the 1999 Brunei Games by Thai athlete Rianchai Seehawong. He had also helped Thailand win the 4x100m relay.
As for Malaysia, Mohd Arsyad Saat finished sixth with a time of 10.690s despite a tight hamstring.
Mohd Azeem Fahmi did not qualify for the final after he was disqualified in the second heat due to a false start.
The coaching staff tried to protest, but after getting electronic timing evidence, it was proved that he was 0.058 seconds earlier than the gun time.
Meanwhile, in the women’s 100m event, the Philippines’ Kayla Richardson clocked 11.600 to win the gold. Singapore’s Veronica Shanti Pereira took silver with a time of 11.620s, while Thailand’s Supanich Poolkerd won bronze in 11.660s.
Malaysia’s Azreen Nabila Alias and Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli finished seventh and eighth, respectively, with a time of 11.990 and 12.110.
Richardson said the win was sweet because many felt she could not win it due to her poor start to the season.
“It feels amazing. To come all the way and win the main event in athletics is just amazing.
“It’s nice to be silencing the noise, and for me, it is a personal victory because I went through a lot before coming to Vietnam,” said the 24-year-old sprinter, whose mother is from the Philippines, while her father is an American.
“My season is not done yet. And I would like to say this – do not give up on athletes even if they do not have a good season. They will always find ways to be back.
“Now, I aim to get to the 2024 Paris Olympics and represent this beautiful country again.”
100m: 1. Puriphorn Boonsorn (Tha) 10.44s, 2. Soraoat Dapbang (Tha) 10.56s, 3. Marc Bryan Louis (Sin) 10.57s
Selected: 6. Mohd Arsyad Saat 10.690s
100m: 1. Kayla Richardson (Phi) 11.600s, 2. Veronica Shanti Pereira (Sin) 11.620s, 3. Supanich Poolkerd (Tha) 11.660s
Selected: 7. Azreen Nabila Alias 11.990, 8.Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli 12.110.