The Kingdom of Thailand first participated at the Olympic Games in 1952 and since then Thai athletes have won seven gold, six silver and eleven bronze medals. Compare this to the Paralympic Games where Thailand first entered in 1984, and whose athletes have won thirteen gold, eighteen silver and twenty bronze medals. More than double the amount of medals in just half the time, an amazing feat.
Of the fifty athletes that made up the Thai national team at this year’s Paralympic Games, eight were former students and teachers from the Redemptorist Vocational School for People with Disabilities in Pattaya.
Returning Paralympians share their experiences with Suporntum Mongkolsawadi, director of the Father Ray Foundation.
The school promotes sports to all its students, and those who show talent are encouraged in their training to participate in local and national competitions.
Sakda Khamta receives a certificate for completing 1479km from Pattaya to Nong Khai.
For Supachai Koysub, former student and teacher at the school, the recent Games in London were his fourth Paralympics, and so far he has won four gold, four silver and one bronze, including silver in the 4x400m T54 wheelchair race in London.
Another former student, Watcharaphon Vongsa, won a gold medal in the team boccia competition. Other former students from the school competed in power-lifting, wheelchair racing, swimming and rifle shooting.
Supachai, accompanied by three other Paralympians recently visited the Pattaya campus where they started their sporting career. Wheelchair racers Sukhum Namlun and Sakchai Yimbanchang, together with power-lifter Narong Kasanun, were given a rapturous welcome by the students and teaching staff on their return.
Representing your country and winning a gold medal takes many years of training. But an athlete must start somewhere; he or she must receive support and encouragement at a local level and for anyone living with a disability the Redemptorist Vocational School for People with Disabilities in Pattaya is the perfect place to start.
More information can be found at www.fr-ray.org or email [email protected]
Supachai Kousub shows his silver medal to principal of the Vocational School, Udomchoke Churut.