Panipak Wongpattanakit brings home the first gold medal for Thailand today.
It is also Thailand’s first gold medal in taekwondo. Thailand has won 23 medals throughout Olympic history.
Panipak has won 2 world championships. The World Taekwondo body ranks the 23-year-old number one in the world.
She won her first Olympic medal five years ago at the games in Brazil in 2016.
Panipak win is a win for Thailand.
For Thailand, this win marks the first Olympic gold outside Thai strong sports of boxing and weightlifting. Both these sports have brought home 4 and 5 gold medals, respectively. This medal also breaks the double-digit barrier as Thailand’s 10th gold medal in any Olympic Games. Thailand won gold in 1996 at the Atlanta Games for boxing and then in 2004 in Athens for women’s weightlifting.
For Panipak, the win marked a new apex in an illustrious career. She’s secured all significant events since 2015’s World Championship. Her 2016 Olympic bronze medal, followed by 3 World Grand Prix crowns in 2017, 2 more in 2018, and another in 2019. At the same time, she won back to back Grand Slam golds in 2018 and 2019 and a second World Championship in 2019. It seems only the Covid-19 pandemic only delayed her winning streak.
Panipak was born in a sports-mad family. Her father, Sirichai, participated in football, athletics and swimming while her late mother, Vantana, was a swimmer. She also has two older siblings who are nicknamed ‘Bowling’ and ‘Baseball’.
The Surat Thani native almost lost the match. In the final bout, Spanish 17-year-old Adriana Cerezo Iglesias was seven seconds away from gold. A 2-point body kick from Panipak reversed a 1-point lead, sending her crumpling on the mat in tears.
Panipak dedicated her triumph to all her Thai fans. She mentioned all the hard work and hard times had paid off in achieving her dream. She will return home to Thailand after the weekend and quarantine in Phuket. The National Sports Development fund will also award her with 12 million baht.