BANGKOK: Thailand, spurred by 14 gold medals four years ago, are aiming for between 15 and 17 gold medals at the coming Asian Games in Doha.
Their head of preparation committee, Suravudh Maharom, said they were banking on several events like sepak takraw, tennis, taekwondo, boxing, weighlifting and athletics for the gold-medal haul.
The associations have predicted 23 golds from 33 sports we are competing in but after looking at current performance and the entry lists of other countries, we think 15 to 17 gold medal is more realistic, he said in an interview here.
Suravudh said the kingdom of 64 million people would be sending a contingent of 489 athletes and officials to the Games, including their star attraction, shuttler Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, the granddaughter of King Bhumipol Adulyadej.
In Busan four years ago, Thailand finished sixth with 14 gold, 19 silver and 10 bronze medals.
Suravudh said the biggest haul could come from sepaktakraw where the team are looking at four out of six gold medals at stake. He added that Malaysia and Myanmar could pose strong challenges to Thailand's quest.
In tennis, Thailand are banking on defending champion and professional player Paradorn Srichaphan to bring in the gold again.
With three world champions Yaowapa Boorapholchai, Patiwat Thongsalap and Rapatkorn Prasopsuk in their ranks, Suravudh said Thailand were a strong bet to win at least two gold medals in taekwondo.
Suravudh said although most of the athletes have been training at home for the past one year with a budget of over 220 million baht (RM22mil), some had gone for overseas training, like the boxing team which went to Cuba.
To ensure that the athletes were fully prepared and their diet needs taken care, the contingent would take along seven chefs to prepare Thai cuisine at the Thai embassy in Doha, he said. Bernama