SEA Games 31: “Golden hopesTaekwondo star Panipak Wongpattanakit (right) on her way to winning gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (Photo: AFP)
Bangkok (VNA) - Thailand has sent 819 athletes to the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games 31) in Vietnam, which will officially begin on May 12, the Bangkok Post reported, and named some of the top athletes in the delegation.

One of them is female taekwondo fighter Panipak Wongpattanakit, who was one of Thailand's only two athletes with podium finishes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, along with boxing bronze medallist Sudaporn Seesondee.

The 24-year-old also claimed bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and is said to be one of the greatest Thai athletes of all time, having won golds at two world championships, one from the Asian Games and one from the Youth Olympics, among others.

She is the top-ranked fighter in the women's 49kg division and has been unbeaten for years. She is the two-time SEA Games defending champion in the category.  

Another is female Olympic boxing bronze medallist Sudaporn Seesondee, one of Thailand's only two medallists at the Tokyo Games along with taekwondo champion Panipak Wongpattanakit.

The Udon Thani boxer became a household name in Thailand after her third-place finish at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Sudaporn has also won a silver and a bronze at the world championships and a silver at the Asian Games. Surprisingly, Sudaporn has never won a gold medal at major international events.

Now 30, this could be her best and last chance to win a SEA Games gold medal.

The third one, female weightlifter Sanikun Tanasarn, is one of Thailand's most successful weightlifters, having won gold at the 2016 Olympics in the 48kg division and claimed the title in the 53kg class at the 2017 world championships.

Unfortunately, she was not allowed to compete in the Tokyo Olympics as the Thai Amateur Weightlifting Association (Tawa) was banned from taking part in the tournament after a number of its athletes tested positive for banned substances during the 2018 world championships. Sanikun herself was also suspended for two years from January 2019.

The Chumphon native will compete in the 55kg class in Vietnam and will be eager for redemption.

The next one, golfer Ratchanon Chantananuwat, who claimed the Asian Mixed Cup in Pattaya last month, becomes the youngest male player to win on one of the game's major tours, at 15 years and 37 days old. The teenage amateur beat a host of professionals in the event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Ladies European Tour.

Ratchanon came close to winning the Singapore International earlier this year when he finished third, two shots off the lead.

The last one is teenage runner Puripol Boonson, who burst onto the scene at the National Games in March when he swept the 100m and 200m titles and set new records in both events.

Thai officials believe 16-year-old Puripol, who stands 1.83m tall, could become the first Thai to run under 10sec over 100m.

However, SEA Games 31 will be Puripol's first international event and he has to prove his talent./.