1st Youth World Weightlifting Championships come to town
Chiang Mai Governor, Amornphan Nimanant
(pink shirt) talks to the media at a press conference to announce the
1st Youth World Weightlifting Championships, which will be contested in
Chiang Mai from May 19-24.
Thanks to the Thai Amateur Weightlifting Federation (TAWA),
another world-class weightlifting event, the 1st Youth World
Weightlifting Championships, are about to begin at the 700 Year Stadium
here in Chiang Mai.
Scheduled to run from May 19 to May 24, the championship event will
complete the international weightlifting calendar with a world-scale
challenge for young weightlifters aged between thirteen and seventeen
years. Besides being a significant championship in its own right, the
event is also the main qualification opportunity for the competitors to
win participation in the 1st Youth Olympic Games to be held in Singapore
in 2010. The championship is being sponsored by the Electricity
Generating Authority of Thailand, (EGAT).
Over 600 competitors from all over the world, plus support staff and
visitors have arrived in Chiang Mai for the competition; all will have
been screened on arrival for symptoms of swine flu. Competitors from
affected countries such as Mexico, US, Canada, Spain, and United Kingdom
are being kept under surveillance.
The Chiang Mai Governor, Amornphan Nimanant, welcomed the championship,
saying that Thailand is honoured to be selected by the International
Weightlifting Federation to host the event. He welcomed all the
contestants and wished them good luck, adding that he hoped they would
have a pleasant stay in Chiang Mai.
The opening ceremony, to be held on May 19, will be presided over by
Privy Councillor, Palakorn Suwannarat, and include Lanna performances.
The ceremony, and sections of the competitions themselves, will be
broadcast in Thailand and across the world on both radio and TV.
Thai racer follows in
famous father’s footsteps
Over the past few years the premier
level of Grand Prix motorcycle racing,
consisting of the 125cc World Championship,
250cc World Championship and MotoGP events, has
become a major force in the world of motorsport.
The racing recently at the Gran Premio De Espana
in Jerez, Spain was testament to this, with
nearly 130,000 people attending and TV coverage
the world over. With exciting performances from
the likes of Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa and
Casey Stoner in MotoGP, this comes as no
Competing in the 250cc class is Ratthapark
Wilairot from Chonburi, better known to his
friends as Feem. As a Thai national, he has
created history by being the first rider from SE
Asia to compete regularly at this level. Twenty
one years old last month, he has already been
riding for the Thai Honda PTT-SAG team since
2007. He competed in the 2006 Japanese Grand
Prix as a wild-card entry and finished a
respectable 10th after qualifying in 14th place.
In 2006 he was runner-up in the challenging
Japanese National Championship.
Ratthapark is the eldest son of the Thai veteran
racer Christmas Wilairot, who began junior road
racing at the tender age of five and first won a
50cc motocross trophy at the age of ten. His
younger brother Ratthapong Wilairot is looking
to follow in his footsteps in motorcycle racing.
The faith shown in him by the Thai-Spanish team
Thai Honda PTT-SAG has been rewarded by ever
improving performances. In 2007 he finished 17th
with a further improvement in 2008 where he
finished in 13th place overall.
Looking for a position in the top 10 this year
he started well at the Grand Prix of Qatar. With
a starting position on the grid in 12th place he
steadily moved up to 4th position but problems
with his rear tyre resulted in a highly
respectable 8th position finish under
floodlights. Unfortunately, a crash near the end
of the Japanese Grand Prix robbed him of a 5th
Carrying an injury into the Gran Premio De
Espana in Jerez, he could only manage 14th, but
Feem would have been hoping to return to his
early season form at the Grande Prix de France
at Le Mans which took place on Sunday. There is
also a chance to see him race live at the
Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit on
October 25 this year.
Despite the disappointments this season,
Ratthapark Wilairot is a talented rider and
there is no doubt we will see a lot more of him
as he continues to improve at this level. It is
a surprise that more riders have not broken
through from SE Asia when you consider the sales
of motorcycles across the region. Let’s hope
Feem can continue to lead by example and help to
bring through more talent from Thailand and the
other countries in the region.