BANGKOK • Thailand's sports officials have begun identifying weaknesses which contributed to the surrendering of regional supremacy to Malaysia at the just-concluded SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.
The country's chef de mission Thana Chaiprasit and Olympic Committee of Thailand (OCT) secretary-general Charouck Arirachakaran have called for the reform and revamp of key sports associations such as athletics and swimming to arrest further decline.
"If we don't do anything, we could face further decline," Thana was quoted as saying by the local media.
Hosts Malaysia surpassed their own target of 111 golds with a collection of 145. Thailand could manage only second place with 72 golds, despite the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) targeting 120 before the Games began. It had won 95 golds at the Singapore SEA Games in 2015.
According to Thana, "big homework" awaits the SAT and OCT to put a stop to the falling standards.
Besides blaming lacklustre performance from Thai athletes, he also blamed what he considered poor officiating for the team missing out on several golds.
He said Thailand was once a powerhouse in both sports, but could win only nine golds in athletics and three in swimming.
"Athletics was such a huge disappointment. I have no idea what's going on," he said.
The team failed to win a medal in gymnastics, bowling, archery and fencing. But Charouck praised the men's football team for retaining their title.
The government, under its National Sports Development Fund's bonus scheme, will hand over 124 million baht (S$5.1 million) to 72 gold, 86 silver and 88 bronze medal winners.
A gold medallist will get 200,000 baht, silver medallist 100,000 baht and bronze medallist 50,000 baht, with the footballers expected to receive the biggest chunk with 16 million baht.