Thais have strong backing to shoot for glory

Thailand may have swept all seven shooting golds at the Asean Para Games but their stellar showing comes as little surprise.

They boast the likes of Bordin Sornsriwichai, who finished fourth in the P1 10m air pistol men SH1 event, and Wasana Keatjaratkul, who placed fifth in the R2 10m air rifle women's Standing SH1, at the 2012 London Paralympics.

Bordin topped the APG podium as expected and he, along with three others, have already qualified for the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

Coach Natthavuth Pradipaphalin said the team were eager to replicate the clean sweep the last time shooting featured at the APG, at the 2008 edition.

He said: "We wanted all but targeted a minimum of six because we know (Singapore's) Aishah Samad is very good."

He cited strong government and employer support as a major factor in their success. For instance, like other shooters, Chutima Saenlar, a public relations officer at the Mall Group, was given six months off prior to the APG to train full time.

Natthavuth added that para-shooters are also compensated fully by employers and the government for full-time training.

Regular competition is another plus point.

Added Chutima: "We can compete in-house and in international events. I have opportunities to compete year-long."

An all-round programme also helps. Said air rifle coach Kittisak Senachan: "We train not only physically but mentally as well, by doing meditation.

"It's all down to practice."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2015, with the headline 'Thais have strong backing to shoot for glory'. Subscribe