Panipak and Nunnapat win gold; Thailand keep rising up medal table
Thailand won two gold medals, in taekwondo and paragliding, to lift their Asian games tally to six yesterday – but Olympic champion Sukyanya Srisurat had to settle for silver in the women’s weightlifting 58kg division.
She was nowhere near challenging the 2017 world champion Kuo Hsingchun of Taiwan, who lifted a total 235kg, while the Thai’s combined weight was just 226kg.
It means that weightlifting, one of Thailand’s top sports, has yet to yield any gold medals in Jakarta after another Olympic champion, Sopita Tanasan, struggled with a back injury and failed to even secure a podium finish in the 53kg.
In the end it was left to world No 1 Panipak Wongpattanakit to fulfil high expectations – she scored her first Asiad gold by outclassing teenage rival Mandinabonu Mannopova of Uzbekistan 21-3 in the women’s taekwondo 49kg final.
The 20-year-old from Surat Thai has proved untouchable in Indonesia, even in her quarter-final against Kan Bora of South Korea, who beat her at the 2018 Asian Championships in Vietnam.
She was in top form from start to finish, these games confirming her high standing in the sport after a stellar 2017 in which she won almost every tournament she entered, including three World Grand Prix titles, World University Games and SEA Games.
“This is worth all the hard work that I have put in,” said the emotional Panipak – aka “Tennis” –who improved on the 43kg bronze she won at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.
“I even had to train with the boys and ask them to keep attacking me during practice to prepare for the bout with Bora in the quarter-final as she would be the toughest one here. I’m so overwhelmed to win and it’s for all the fans back in Thailand,” said Panipak, whose only remaining challenge is the Olympic gold medal – she won bronze at Rio 2016.
2015 World champion Nunnapat Puchong claimed her second Asian Games gold medal in Jakarta, winning the women’s paragliding individual accuracy with a score of 77 points, beating Lee Da Gyeom of South Korea (91) and Rika Wijayanti of Indonesia (120), who took silver and bronze.
The 30-year-old Nunnapat is the first Thai athlete to win two gold medals at these Games, having been part of the team that won on Wednesday.
Her teammate Jirasak Witeetham (47 points) took silver in the men’s individual accuracy, where gold went to Indonesia’s Jafro Megawanto (27) and bronze to South Korea’s Lee Chulsoo (128).
The two golds in taekwondo and paragliding meant Thailand have reaped five in two days and now stand on six golds – the previous four were won by the women’s taekwondo poomsae team, paragliding team accuracy and the men’s and women’s sepak takraw regu teams.
Thailand won several bronzes on Thursday: cyclist Navuti Liphongyu finished third in the men’s 150km road race in Subang; Thai-German rower Hermann Ludwig won the bronze in the men’s kayak singles in Palembang; and Atcharaporn Duanglawa came third in the women’s canoe singles.
Prem Nampratueng and Jaruwat Saensuk also won bronze forThailand in the men’s doubles sculls as did weightlifter Chatuphum Chinnawong in the men’s 77kg.
There was also better news in tennis, after Thailand’s shock early exits in the men’s doubles and women’s singles.
Sonchat Ratiwattana and Luksika Kumkhum secured at least a bronze medal in the mixed doubles after they beat Hong Kong’s Yeung Pak Long and Zhang Ling 7-5 6-3 in the quarter-finals in Palembang. They will face Kazakhs Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Anna Danilina in the semi-finals.
“We’re happy to win the first medal for the Thai tennis team but the mission is not over yet. We hope to go further,” said world No 92 Luksika.
After winning the men’s team regu on Wednesday, the Thai sepak takraw team launched another quest for gold in the men’s team doubles, beating Myanmar 2-1 in a group B preliminary encounter.