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Thai university student equals Asian high jump record, Thailand extend lead in medal tally

Vijay Joshi The Canadian Press 14.12.2009 08:07
Noengruthai Chaipech of Thailand competes in the final of the high jump. Noengruthai won gold medal.

Noengruthai Chaipech of Thailand competes in the final of the high jump. Noengruthai won gold medal.


VIENTIANE — A Thai university student tied the Asian Games record in women's high jump at the Southeast Asian Games Monday, but confessed she was so nervous during the event she had trouble breathing.



Noengruthai Chaipech's victory extended Thailand's lead in the medal standings to 42, with Vietnam in second place at 31 and Singapore third with 27.

Noengruthai cleared 1.94 metres in her third and final attempt and was initially unaware she had equalled the Asian record, set by Sato Megumi of Japan at the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing.

"I was quite nervous at the beginning of the competition. I couldn't even breathe, but I relaxed afterward," said the 27-year-old Noengruthai, a business administration student at Bangkok's Siam University.

She said she started high jumping at the age of 13 when a teacher at school told her to concentrate on one sport.

"I used to run 100 metres, 200, 400, triple, long jump, everything," said Noengruthai.

Her parents, who live in Thailand's Nong Khai town, across the Mekong River that forms the border between Vientiane and Thailand, had driven to watch their daughter's performance at the biennial games, which end Dec. 18.

Noengruthai cleared 1.70, 1.75, 1.80 and 1.84 metres easily. It took two attempts to jump 1.88 and three to jump 1.91. By then, her nearest rivals from Thailand and Vietnam were stranded at 1.88. She went for 1.94 and on first two attempts brushed against the bar. With the sun blazing behind her, she ran slowly for her third and sailed over smoothly, leaving the bar untouched.

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