August 17, 2012 00:00 By Lerpong Amsangiam
Life has become busy for Thailand's three Olympic heroes these days. Kaew Pongprayoon, Pimsiri Sirikaew and Chanatip Sonkham were mobbed by adoring fans and media when they attended two awards functions at McDonald's and Siam Commercial Bank yesterday.
A large number of sports enthusiasts packed Siam Paragon yesterday to see the London Olympic medallists. Upon their arrival, they burst into thunderous screams and rushed to felicitate and take photos with them.
Silver medallists Kaew Pongprayoon and Pimsiri Sirikaew and bonze medallist Chanathip Sonkham appeared weary from a series of activities and public appearances since coming home. They had to placate a number of interviewers and go through the motions of photo opportunities with fans at the Infinity Hall, fifth floor, Siam Paragon for the McDonald’s event.
The diminutive Kaew, who on Wednesday decided to hang up his gloves, and weightlifter Pimsiri were presented Bt500,000 apiece, while the Southernborn Chanathip was given Bt300,000. Apart from the bonus, the three and 34 other athletes, who took part in the London Games, received Bt10,000 voucher from McDonald's and free Major Cineplex tickets.
Also present yesterday were nonmedallists taekwondo fighter PenEk Karaket, a popular athlete among female fans, and badminton players Maneepong Jongjit, Bodin Issara and Boonsak Ponsana.
Chanathip, whose is likely to get around Bt20 million as incentive, said she would fly back home to Phatthalung for the first time since the Olympics on August 21. She would be paraded around Hat Yai City on an open car before proceeding to her home town.
“I’m greatly excited to go back home for the first time in months and I have heard there would be a huge celebration there. I cannot wait to see my parents again as they just spent one day with me when I arrived in Bangkok,’’ said Chanathip, who has become a heartthrob of young female fans.
“I bought an Armani wristwatch for my father and Harrods bags for my mother and sister,’’ added Chanathip who said she would have to return to classes in Chulalongkorn University soon.
The Olympians also took group photos with three lucky Thai children who won the McDonald’s Champions of Play contest. Chiratna Hongsakorn, Natticha Chantarawarilekha and Kongpop Suputipong were the trio selected to experience the Olympics in London.
Later, the Olympians went to the SCB headquarters in Ratchayothin to receive cash incentives. Kaew and Pimsiri were awarded Bt500,000 each and bronze medallist Chanatip Bt300,000. The three heroes have been covered by accident insurance worth Bt5 million.
The bank also gave away a onebaht gold necklace and accident insurance worth Bt500,000 for each of the non medallists.
Meanwhile, Advanced Info Service (AIS), a mobile phone operator, on Wednesday presented Kaew and Pimsiri Bt1 million each and Chanatip Bt500,000.
AIS had initially planned to hand over Bt1 million to a gold medallist and Bt500,000 and Bt300,000 to silver and bronze medallists. However, the company decided to increase the amount of money to the three heroes, who put up a gutsy display at the Olympics and captured the hearts of Thai public.