Thai weightlifters strike gold at Asian youth championships

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Thailand enhanced its reputation as one of the growing powerhouses of Asian weightlifting by securing 31 gold medals at the recent Asian Youth & Junior Weightlifting Championships held from Sept. 5-12 at the Pattaya Indoor Sports Arena.

Stars of the show for the home nation were the Girls squad who racked up 15 gold medals out of a possible 21 on offer from the 7 weight categories.

Thailand had 30 young athletes competing in the championships which attracted 467 representatives in total from 34 nations in the Asian region.

Pattaya Mayor Itthipol Kunplume presides over the opening ceremony of the International Youth Weightlifting Championships on Monday, Sept. 5 at the Pattaya Indoor Sports Arena.Pattaya Mayor Itthipol Kunplume presides over the opening ceremony of the International Youth Weightlifting Championships on Monday, Sept. 5 at the Pattaya Indoor Sports Arena.

The highlight of the first day’s competition was the gold medal winning effort of Thailand’s Sinphet Kruaithong in the 50kg Boys division which saw him successfully lift 101kg in the snatch, and follow it up with 126kg in the clean & jerk to break age world records previously held by China’s Chiang Hao.  The silver medal went to Sinphet’s compatriot Panrak Krongrat while Turkmenistan’s Sevitja Mirzayev garnered the bronze.

Afterwards Sinphet stated he was ecstatic with his performance as he had set his goals on breaking the youth world records and said he will continue to work hard to gain qualification for future Olympic Games.

The successful Thai athletes hold up their medals as they pose with officials after the completion of the closing ceremony.The successful Thai athletes hold up their medals as they pose with officials after the completion of the closing ceremony.

The following day saw another youth world record broken in the Girls 53kg class where Thailand’s Naruephon Saenchek ‘Nong Nim’ struggled in the snatch discipline to only finish in fourth spot behind Park Min Kyung of South Korea.  However, the youngster from the Nakhon Ratchasima Sports School redeemed herself in the clean & jerk by setting a new world record for her age of 92kg to win the gold and also take the overall title with a combined 157kg total (another record).  Naruephon was tied on this new record weight total with India’s Pramila Krisani but took the top podium spot by nature of her having a lower body weight, while Park Min Kyung took bronze.

On the final day of competition, Sept.12, there were several Thai athletes with realistic medal ambitions.  First up was Praeonap Khenjantuek who had previously taken a four year break from international competition due to injury, but returned here with a ‘bang’ to take gold in the snatch, clean & jerk and overall in the junior 75kg and up category.  She was followed in by her compatriot Thunyalu Choomanee who took silver in both the snatch and clean & jerk disciplines.

In the 77kg and 85kg junior male classes, the home nation picked up further gold medals from Suchat Somboon (S 135kg; C&J 180kg) and Chatuphu Chinnawong (S 153kg; C&J 189kg) respectively to round out a most successful competition for the Thai team.

In the crowd pleasing super heavyweight division (105kg and up) that brought down the curtain on the event, the overall gold went to China’s Ai Yuna who lifted a staggering 225kg in the clean & jerk to give him a combined total of 410kg and the top step on the podium.

34 nations from across Asia took part in the event.34 nations from across Asia took part in the event.

The closing ceremony after the completion of the tournament was presided over by Pol. Col. Chumpol Ongkhamontri who awarded the prestigious King’s Cups to the junior male and female winning teams; the junior male category was won by the Thai team while the runners-up were Uzbekistan and third place went to India.  The junior female category was also won by Thailand, second place went to China while third place was claimed by Kazakhztan.

The Thai teams also dominated the youth divisions, winning both male and female team titles ahead of Taiwan and China respectively and were later presented with the Mayor’s Cups.

Overall the Thai athletes won a total of 31 gold, 32 silver and 15 bronze medals at the championships.

Dancers perform in traditional Thai costume during the closing ceremony.Dancers perform in traditional Thai costume during the closing ceremony.

Thailand’s Sinphet Kruaithong warms up back stage before successfully competing in the 50kg Boys division.Thailand’s Sinphet Kruaithong warms up back stage before successfully competing in the 50kg Boys division.

Park Min Kyung of South Korea took overall bronze in the Girls 53kg class. Park Min Kyung of South Korea took overall bronze in the Girls 53kg class.

South Korea’s Youn Yeo Won attempts a big weight in the 62kg Male Youth category. South Korea’s Youn Yeo Won attempts a big weight in the 62kg Male Youth category.

Thailand’s Naruephon Saenchek on her way to setting a new youth world record in the clean & jerk discipline.Thailand’s Naruephon Saenchek on her way to setting a new youth world record in the clean & jerk discipline.