Sixteen-year-old Kanthida Saengsin has produced the first gold medal for Thailand at the Buenos Aires Youth Olympics, beating Safia Salih of Morocco 10-6 in the final round of taekwondo girls-under 55kg on Wednesday.
Coached by South Korean Choi Young-seok, Kanthida beat Chinese Yang Junli 3-2 and Greek Fani Tseli 7-3 in the quarter-finals and semi-finals.
“I expected to win a medal but never a gold. It was a big relief to beat Tseli as I had never beaten her before,” said Kanthida, who also revealed that her mother had prayed for her by eating vegetarian food for three days.
Choi, who has also been behind the successes of other Thai taekwondo exponents, including Asian Games gold medalist Panipak Wongpattanakit, said Kanthida had finally put behind her bad results against Tseli.
“The last time Kanthida lost to Tseli was a painful experience to her. But I kept telling her that she had to believe in herself and had no fear. She proved she believed in her potential,’ Choi said.
In the boys’ under-63kg, Naruepong Thepsen had to be content with the silver after he lost to Cho Wonhee of South Korea 16-21 in the final.