Save sepak takraw! Thai plea as golds keep on coming

Palembang (Indonesia) (AFP) –


Thailand's coach insisted sepak takraw deserved its place in the Asian Games as his dominant team racked up another two golds in the Southeast Asian sport on Wednesday.

Sepak takraw is a form of volleyball played with the feet, requiring gravity-defying bicycle kicks to fire a rattan ball at lightning speed over a net.

It is among a number of regional sports fighting for inclusion at the next Asian Games in Hangzhou, China -- but Kamol Tankimhong said he is "pretty confident" it will get the nod.

"Every year there is a strong team joining and each country is performing better and better," he said, above the cheers and drums of the travelling Thai supporters.

"It's such an exciting sport to watch so we should get an academy going, teach it more and spread the sport."

Thailand is the undisputed champion at the sport, winning 22 of the 33 gold medals at previous Asian Games since it was first included in 1990.

True to form, the country's men trounced longstanding rivals Malaysia 2-0 in the team regu final on Wednesday, and Thailand also won the women's competition.

The full program of events to be included at the next Asiad in 2022 has not yet been confirmed. The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has so far only ratified the 33 sports in competition at Tokyo 2020.

Other medal sports could include those in competition at the Paris 2024 Olympics, as well as nominations from OCA's five regions and two more from host China.

Thailand's star player Siriwat Sakha, 29 -- a giant among his compatriots at 1.86m (6ft 1in) -- said the sport's athleticism, thrills and long history mean it should not be dropped.

He dared to go even further, saying that getting sepak takraw into the Olympics one day is one of his "biggest dreams".