"Unbeatable" veteran fencer Saysunee Jana lived up to her billing in London, handing Thailand its third gold medal of the 2012 Paralympic Games.
The 38-year-old from Nonthaburi showed exceptional skills and experience to outwit Germany’s Simone Briese-Baetke 15-8 in the final of the women’s individual epee category B on Wednesday. The gold medal was made all the more special by Saysunee’s survival earlier in an epic semi-final, where she finally overcame her biggest rival, Hong Kong’s Chan Yui Chong, 15-14.
“I was a little tense in the final because it was so close, and she beat me in the preliminaries. But I knew that if I could beat Chan, my chances in the final were bright,” said Saysunee, who was Thailand’s flag-bearer in London won gold at the 2004 Athens Paralympics then bronze four years ago at the Beijing Games.
“I told myself to stay focused and it worked. I have no words to describe how happy I am now,’’ said Saisunee who reversed a 5-4 loss to the German in an earlier round. The Thai is now looking forward to her homecoming.
“It would be nice to be given the same support as the Summer Olympics team. We would love to be given a similar welcome,’’ said the wheelchair athlete.
The victory earned Saysunee a Bt4-million bonus from the National Sports Development Fund.
Thailand have moved up to 28th in the standings with five medals, including three golds thanks to table tennis player Rungroj Thainiyom, a four-man team in boccia, and Saysunee. The total bonus to be paid out to Thai medal winners by the National Sports Development Fund stands at Bt27 million (Bt4 million for a gold, Bt2 million for silver and Bt1 million for bronze).
Channel 3 also announced it would award Bt1 million, Bt500,00 and Bt300,000 to gold, silver and bronze medallist respectively. Ichitan green-tea tycoon Tan Passakornnatee has promised to add to the pot with Bt1 million, Bt500,000 and Bt300,000 respectively for each, gold silver and bronze medallist. Former prime minister Banharn Silapa-archa has pledged Bt500,000, Bt300,000 and Bt200,000.