Taekwondo Association of Thailand president Pimol Srivikorn has picked Penek Karaket as the best medal hope among the three Thai exponents who will compete at the London Olympics in August.
Thailand’s Games lineup was completed on Tuesday with the TAT’s decision to pick teenager Rangsiya Nisaysom for the women’s 49kg category. She will join Penek (men’s 58kg) and Chanatip Sornkhan (women’s 57kg) on the London trip.
After Rangsiya became the first Thai to win the world championship title, in South Korea last year, many observers made the 18-year-old favourite to win Thailand’s first ever Olympic gold in the Korean martial art.
However, Pimol insists it is Penek who has the best chance of going one better than Buttree Puedpong, who won silver in Beijing four years ago.
“I’m confident that we can win our first gold medal this time. Among the three exponents we are fielding in London, I think Penek has the better prospects.
“He is among the top seeds, which means he has an easier path to later rounds in the event. His morale is quite high and he doesn’t flinch from taking on tough challenges. He is a determined individual. When facing a strong opponent, he never gets overawed.
“Whether we win our first gold will be decided on the first day of the taekwondo competition, on August 8, when Penek and Chanatip compete,” said Pimol.
Penek used his bitter experience of rare defeat in the world championships in South Korea as motivation and he is now enjoying a fine run of form.