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Thailand’s first-ever Olympic sprint canoeist targeting semi-final spot

Olympic canoeist Orasa Thiangkathok is eyeing a semi-final berth in the women’s canoe singles 200m, which takes place on Wednesday at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo Bay.

The 23-year-old from Nakhon Ratchasima, the first Thai to compete in an Olympic sprint canoe event, is determined to cause a stir at the Olympic Games TOKYO 2020.

“I’m in my final preparations after spending a week in Japan. I am already used to the conditions here. My coach [David Varga of Hungary] has lightened the training programme as he doesn’t want me to pick up any injuries,” said Orasa, gold medalist in the 2018 Asian Canoe Sprint U23 & Junior Championships and Asian Canoe Sprint Cup in Uzbekistan.

Orasa has also worked on her fitness and made adjustments to her paddling technique, as she puts the finishing touches to her preparation. However, she has not timed herself during practice as this, she said, would only add to the pressure on her shoulders.

For her Olympic debut, the Thai has been drawn in heat No 3 alongside competitors from Cuba, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and Nigeria. She has little information about her rivals but will find out more when she tests her mettle against them on August 4.

“My goal is to reach the semi-final, which means I have to finish top or second in the heat. It will be a lot tougher to reach my goal if I cross the finish line behind second place. If that happens, I will have to compete in the Repechage,” she said.

Orasa is due to begin her Olympic campaign at 8.19am on August 4. A top-two finish will guarantee her a berth in the semi-finals, which take place in the afternoon of the same day along with the Repechage.

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