Thailand's 14-year-old shooting prodigy aims for World Cup gold

By AFP   February 23, 2019 | 08:57 pm PT
Thailand's 14-year-old shooting prodigy aims for World Cup gold
Thailand shooter Isaranuudom Phurihiranphat is only 14, but says he is eyeing World Cup gold. Photo by AFP/Sajjad Hussain
Thailand's James Bond-loving ace sport shooter says he is unfazed by his older opponents as the high school prodigy sets his sights on World Cup gold in India this week.

Isaranuudom Phurihiranphat is the youngest competitor at the tournament and the 14-year-old faces a strong field in the 25-metre rapid fire pistol event.

"I know I am the youngest in these games. There is tough competition but I don't feel any pressure. I stay relaxed and calm when I shoot," he told AFP after practice at the New Delhi shooting range.

"Of course I'll go for gold. I feel I can do it. My aim is to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics," he added.

Isaranuudom says his love of British spy films motivated him to become a full-time sporting shooter at the age of nine.

"I liked guns since I was a small boy. I also watched a lot of James Bond movies," he said.

"My favourite is Johnny English," he added, referring to the slapstick British spy film franchise.

But his parents have also motivated him all of the way, with his mother Phon Phak travelling with her only child to the Indian capital as one of the Thailand shooting squad's managers.

"My father is a captain of a ship and my mother runs a business. They helped me pursue my sport full-time. My mother travels with me to all events and she wants me to do something more than just study."

Phon is all praise for Isaranuudom's "focus" at such a young age as she recalls his early trips to the Bangkok shooting academy from their home four hours away in Nakhon Ratchasima city.

"He is very focused regarding his shooting career which is rare at such a young age. He just loves the sport and will achieve great heights," she told AFP.

"It was not easy travelling from our hometown to the Bangkok shooting range where he trained during his holidays. But I am always there with him," she added.

Isaranuudom is still searching for his first medal in a senior competition after representing Thailand at the Asian Games in Indonesia and the World Championships in South Korea.

The Delhi event is the teenager's fourth World Cup tournament after competing in junior events and he has more than 10 medals in international competitions.

"I started as a air pistol shooter when I was nine years old. But realised that I wasn't too good at it, so switched to 25-meter rapid fire and got results in just two years," he said.

"I like rapid fire because it's fast, I don't like things slow. I shot in my first competition in 2015 in a Thailand event and got gold."

The tournament in Delhi concludes on Thursday.

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