Friday, August 22, 2008

Two boxers through to finals in Beijing


Two boxers through to finals in Beijing


BEIJING : Manus Boonjumnong and Somjit Jongjohor will be trying to punch their way to gold today to ensure Thailand finishes on a high note after a relatively disappointing Olympic Games.

Defending light-welterweight champion Manus and Somjit both scored comfortable victories in their semi-finals yesterday.

Manus thrashed Cuba's Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo 10-5, while Somjit whipped Vicenzo Picardi of Italy 7-1.

On the penultimate day of the 29th Olympiad today, Manus will be chasing his second gold to become Thailand's first two-time Olympic champion when he takes on Felix Diaz of the Dominican Republic, while Somjit will be bidding for his first Olympic title against Cuba's Andris Laffita Hernandez.

Thailand won eight medals, including three golds, at the 2004 Games, but can only claim four medals at the 2008 Olympics.

Weightlifting champion Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon and taekwondo exponent Buttree Puedpong, who won a silver, are the only other Thai medallists in Beijing.

At the Workers' Gymnasium yesterday, Somjit had few problems against Picardi, who was well beaten by the Thai in the semi-finals at last year's World Championships in Chicago.

Somjit will face his toughest opponent in Beijing in Hernandez, who controversially pipped Russia's Georgy Balakshin 9-8 in the other semi-final. They are 1-1 in their head-to-head record.

In the 64kg semi-finals, Manus, fighting on his mother's birthday, found himself 1-0 down against Sotolongo after the opening exchanges, but soon bounced back. The turning point came in the third round when the Cuban appeared to intentionally head-butt Manus. He was deducted two points.

"I am very happy. I dedicate the win to my mother," said Manus.

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