Pimsiri Sirikaew made the country proud late on Monday when she staged a magnificent comeback in the women's 58kg clean-and-jerk event to win Thailand's first medal at the London Games - a silver.
It is the 22nd medal won by Thais in all Olympics. For her effort, some Bt10 million in cash awaits Pimsiri from generous sponsors.
This includes Bt6 million (half in cash and the rest as a monthly salary at a five-year bank account) from the National Sports Develop-ment Fund, Bt1 million from Ichitan, Bt500,000 apiece from Siam Commercial Bank, Channel 7, Channel 3, Chang and McDonald’s as well as a CRB 205R motorcycle worth Bt120,000 from Honda.
The 22-year-old from Khon Kaen first burst into prominence when she won bronze at the 2011 IWF World Champ-ionships in Paris after taking the gold medal in the South East Asian (SEA) Games in Indonesia the same year.
Early this year, Pimsiri fared well to land the title at the Asian Championships in South Korea.
Winning a gold medal was a tough mission for Pimsiri as Chinese Li Xueying from Henan was expected to be the overwhelming talent to outclass all 18 challengers from 17 nations in the women’s 58kg class. As expected, Li took the snatch with an Olympic record effort of 108kg, while Pimsiri surpassed 100kg with her first attempt. She tried to lift 103kg, but failed. That left her 10th after the snatch.
However, Pimsiri defied all odds by lifting an impressive 136kg in her second attempt, which saw only Li do better with a powerful lift of 138kg. The Chinese captured gold with an aggregate 246kg, while Pimsiri picked up silver with 236kg. Ukrainian Yuliya Kalina claimed bronze with lifts of 235kg. Another Thai, Rattikan, finished fourth, just one kilogram behind.
Pimsiri’s dazzling form captured all Thai hearts. Her father Khampoon and mother Amornrat cheered her all the way in Khon Kaen with a large crowd of neighbours.
Her teary mother said: “Taew [Pimsiri’s nickname] has kept her promise to win an Olympic medal for me on my 48th birthday today [Monday]. I feel very proud of her. We’ll have a hero’s welcome ready for Taew.”