Olympic gold medalist Panipak Wongpattanakit, the first Thai to win gold at the Tokyo Games, returned home yesterday to a warm welcome plus the promise of nearly 20 million baht for her victory.
Panipak arrived in Phuket from Tokyo on a Singapore Airlines flight under the province’s sandbox program, along with her head coach Choi Young-Seok and other members of the Thai Taekwondo team.
After going through Covid-19 monitoring protocols, the Taekwondo star emerged to be greeted by her father, Sirichai. Other bobos to congratulate her included Phuket Governor Narong Wunsiew and Taekwondo Association of Thailand President Pimol Srivikorn.
The 23-year-old, who claimed the country’s first gold medal in Taekwondo, bowed to thank her father and presented him with the medal. She also had respect for the coach, her team and the president of the association.
Panipak said she was overwhelmed by the support she had received, adding that it was the happiest day of her life. She and the team also received flowers and a message of support from Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Rajakanya.
The resident of Surat Thani thanked the audience in southern dialect and said the gold medal was for everyone. Furthermore, Panipak will have to spend at least 14 days in Phuket before being allowed to travel to other provinces.
“The very first thing I want to do in Phuket is enjoy good food – seafood, cookies, cake, grilled meat and much more,” she said.
Her father Sirichai said he was grateful for the support of the Thai people and that he was happy that his daughter had brought them happiness. He said his daughter’s victory was for all Thais.
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