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Thailand Hopes to Win Four Olympic Berths



Zhang Jiawei (Red) of China competes with Worapoj Petchkoom (Blue) of Thailand in the Men's 56kg Gold Medal match


CHIANGRAI TIMES – Thailand hope to win at least four Olympic berths when they join the World Amateur Boxing Championships in Azerbaijan next week.

The Thai team of eight boxers left for Baku last night to take part in the 10-division tournament, which serves as the first qualifying event for next year’s Olympics in London.

The Thai boxers are Kaew Pongprayoon (49kg), Worapoj Petchkoom (56kg), Chatchai Butdee (52kg), Sailom Ardee (60kg), Wutthichai Masuk (64kg), Apichet Saensit (69kg), Suriya Prasarthinpimai (75) and Kriengkai Sudkhum (81kg).

“Our target is to get at least four Olympic berths at the event,” said Gen Boonlert Kaewprasit, president of the Thailand Boxing Association.

“It is quite tough but we hope to meet our target.”

Among the Thai favourites are veterans such as bantamweight Worapoj and light-flyweight Kaew.

The 30-year-old Worapoj said that he and his teammates were raring to fight because they had not taken part in any tournament for almost a year.

“We try not to put too much pressure on ourselves,” said the Asian Games gold medallist who is trying to secure a third straight Olympic appearance.

Worapoj won a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics but suffered an early exit in Beijing four years later.

More than 600 boxers from 127 countries will take part in the world championships.

Thailand manager Sakda Petchjinda said his team had a good chance of winning four Olympic spots.

“The boxers are in good shape and the relations between the Thai association and the Aiba [International Amateur Boxing Association] have improved a lot,” he said.

The draw will be made on Sunday and the competition is scheduled from Sept 26-Oct 8.

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