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Thai fencers vow to give their best in Beijing
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World number 24 fencer Wiradech Kothny and Nontapat Panchan, ranked 44, have vowed to show their best in the upcoming Beijing Olympics, although their boss admitted that it was almost impossible for the duo to win any medal.

Fencing is one of the oldest Olympic sports but Thailand only took part in the discipline for the first time at the 2004 Games.

Sabre specialist Wiradech was the first Thai fencer to have competed in the Olympics when he represented the country in Athens.

Wiradech, who won two bronze medals for Germany at the 2000 Sydney Games, will be competing under the Thai flag for the second time in Beijing.

The Thai, who was adopted by a German journalist and grew up in that country, returned to the country of his birth a few years after the Sydney Games.

He has since regained Thai citizenship and played for Thailand with little success, though having complained about lack of facilities and training partners and often trained overseas.

Wiradech knows that there are too many good players standing in his way so he has not set a target for the Beijing Games.

"All I want is do my best to prove that a Thai fencer can play at the top level," he was quoted by the Bangkok Post newspaper on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, his teammate Nontapat Panchan will make his Olympic debut at the 2008 Games in the men's individual foil.

Arichai Kunwimon-prathip, assistant secretary-general of the Amateur Fencing Association of Thailand (Afat), said both Wiradech and Nontapat had been training hard.

They trained and competed overseas particularly in Germany where they could get good training partners, Arichai was quoted as saying.

"In Thailand, they can't find good training partners because they are much better than the others," he said. "Wiradech has experience, while Nontapat has been improving fast."

Wiradech, 29, qualified for the Beijing Games through his world ranking, while Nontapat, 27, secured a berth following his triumph at the Asian Championships in Thailand this year.

Arichai admitted that it was almost impossible for the duo to win any medal. But he is still optimistic saying that a split second can determine the result in fencing.

"Anything can happen. We have to wait and see," Arichai said.

Wiradech and Nontapat will leave for Beijing on July 24 and will compete on August 12 and 13 respectively.

(Xinhua News Agency July 23, 2008)

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