“We have the chance to win gold medals,” Choi Young Seok, a South Korean national who is the lead coach of the Thail team, told Xinhua in an interview.
“We are ready,” said Choi, who himself used to be a taekwondo athlete and now has been coaching Thai players for eight years. He speaks fluent Thai language.
During a late afternoon training at a big room specifically designed for taekwondo at a major stadium of the state-owned Sports Authority of Thailand, the 37-year-old coach pointed to two of his best hopes for the upcoming Asian Games.
Chutchawal Khawlaor, 22, currently occupies No. 1 ranking of men under 54 kilograms division of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), climbing from the third seed in August this year while Butree Puedpong, 20, retains the 2nd seed of women under 46 kilograms of WTF as her same ranking in August.
Both of them, joining an Asian Games for the first time, will lead a team of five male and six female players to compete in taekwondo in Guangzhou.
Choi said their main rivals are South Koreans, who are renowned for this kind of sport.
But Chutchawal and Butree both have a broader concern.
“All the athletes who come to the games will play to their full capacity,” Butree said. “So I think all the nationals are frightening.”
Chutchawal said, “I will do my best. I don’t put pressure upon myself that I will have to win a gold medal.”
Both of them will compete in the division they now stand as WTF champions.
Apart from the world championship, Butree also won a gold medal in the SEA Games in Nakhon Ratchasima province in Thailand in 2007 and another one in Laos in 2009 while Chutchawal won one in Nakhon Ratchasima.
Though currently training for three sessions a day — two hours each for the morning and noon sessions and another three hours for the late afternoon one — for every day, Chutchawal and Butree said their regimens are not as hard as before as they have to stay unhurt for the games.
Butree said she has some slight pain on her knees, but it doesn’ t pose a big problem for her.
Chutchawal, a sophomore in broadcasting, and Butree, a sophomore in political science, will be leaving Thailand for Guangzhou on November 14 for their first day of competition on Nov. 17.
“Thailand now seems to see taekwondo as another key sport,” Choi said.
A new three-story building at a cost of 29.80 million baht (1 million U.S. dollars) is being built by the Sports Authority of Thailand in the same compound Chutchawal and Butree are training now to house the new training ground for taekwondo. Its construction is expected to be completed early next year.