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Onuma Thailand’s toy cannon

The tiny Onuma Sittirak rules in a land of giants

Matsumoto, Japan, November 1, 2010 – They say that good things come in small packages, but who can lay claim to being pound for pound and inch by inch the heaviest hitter in today’s game? The answer can currently be found at the Matsumoto City Gymnasium, where Thailand’s toy cannon, Onuma Sittirak, is hammering the opposition with thunderous spikes despite her diminutive stature.

The tiny Onuma, who stands just 1.75m and weighs 70kg, is among the top scorers at the 2010 FIVB Women’s World Championship despite being surrounded by some towering company! Thailand’s wing-spiker has scored 52 points in three matches at an average of 17.3 per game, but she admits it isn’t easy to attack much taller opponents.

“I’ve had to learn how to hit off the block and attack from the back court,” says Onuma, a student of Computer Management at ABAC University in Bangkok who has already spent three years playing in Europe. “Playing one year in Turkey and two more in Switzerland helped me a lot because I got accustomed to playing against the high block and it polished my skills.

“Culturally it was also a very good experience because I had to get used to a lifestyle that is different to our country,” she said. “I had to make adjustments but it was very important for my development not only as a player but also as a person.” Onuma plans to continue playing in foreign leagues.

Her coach, Kittiapong Radchatagrienkai, loves the fighting spirit of the 23-year-old, as well as her work ethic, dedication and willingness to help the team and the other players. “She trains very hard and it has been that way since she started in the national team in 2006,” said Radchatagrienkai. “She has a lot of energy and plays very aggressively all the time, including the training sessions.”

After losing their first match in Pool C against USA, Thailand have notched up victories against Kazakhstan and Croatia. With her powerful jump serves and lightning spikes Onuma led the scoring in both of those wins with 18 and 16 points respectively, but she refused to take all the credit. “I want to help my team to win with my attack but also our setter deserves a lot of credit because she moves the ball really fast and makes it easier for us,” said Onuma.

After a rest day on Monday, Thailand’s toy cannon will be ready to fire once again against Cuba on Tuesday before closing the first round against Germany the following day.

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