Thailand clinches its first Olympic gold through taekwondo
By Linda Khoo Hui Li
BANGKOK, July 24 -- Thailand’s taekwondo exponent Panipak Wongpattanakit created history by clinching the kingdom’s first gold medal in Tokyo Olympics today.
The 23-year-old world number one, Panipak beat Spanish teenager Adriana Cerezo Iglesias in the final second of the women’s taekwondo -49 kg category at Makuhari Messe Hall in Chiba, Japan.
The Surat Thani native now can add the Olympic gold to her list of achievements. She won gold medal in 2015 World Championships, 2017 South East Asian Games and 2018 Asian Games.
Panipak was the bronze medalist in Rio 2016 Olympic in the women's 49kg category.
Thailand previously have won Olympic gold in only two sports -- weightlifting and boxing.
However, this year, Thai weightlifters have been banned from the Tokyo Games due to doping.
Meanwhile, Sports Authority of Thailand aimed for three gold medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Game. A total of 42 Thai athletes will take part in 16 sports.
Thailand won two gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympic.
Bangkok Post reported that Thailand’s best hopes include Panipak, golfer Paphangkorn Tavatanakit, mixed doubles shuttlers Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai, skeet shooter Sutiya Jiewchaloemmit, and boxers Thitisan Panmod, Chatchai-decha Butdee and Sudaporn Seesondee.
The others who are seen as title contenders are golfer Ariya Jutanugarn, boxers Baison Maneekon and Juthamas Chitrapong, 10,000m runner Kieran Tantivej, taekwondo exponent Ramnarong Sawekwiharee, badminton players Ratchanok Intanon and Busanan Ongbamrungphan, and windsurfers Nattapong Phonoparat and Siriporn Kaewduang-ngam.