Thailand's Chanatip Sonkham and Rangsiya Nisaisom stamped their tickets for London after winning gold medals at the Asian Taekwondo Qualification Tournament for the 2012 Olympics, at the John Paul II Sport Centre Gymnasium, Assumption University, Bang Na
Asian Games silver medallist Pen-Ek Karaket had already earned the Thai squad its first Olympic berth when he powered his way to a gold medal at July’s WTF World Qualification Tournament in Baku, Azerbaijan.
At the weekend, 99 fighters from 30 countries battled for the three top places in eight divisions that would earn them a trip to the Olympics.
Thailand and Jordan shared two golds apiece, while Taiwan, Afghanistan, China and Iran took home one gold each.
With 24 Olympic berths at stake, Kazakhstan, Jordan and Uzbekistan grabbed the chance by securing three apiece, hosts Thailand, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Japan took two, while Taiwan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Lebanon and China claimed one.
In the women’s 49kg class, Chanatip thrashed Japan’s Erika Kasahara with powerful kicks for an 8-1 win to clinch the gold.
Asian Games silver medallist Nacha Punthong of Thailand failed to make his mark, going down 13-11 in a tight contest against South Korea-born Kim Dmitriy of Uzbekistan in the second round of the men’s 68kg class.
Current world champion Rangsiya proved once again that she is the strongest in the women’s 57kg division, beating Lebanon’s Andrea Paoli 6-2 in the final to claim gold.
Alongside the skilful Pen-Ek Karaket in the men’s 58kg class, Chutchawal Khaola-or has proved that he is a force to be reckoned with. Chutchawal has achieved major success not just at the SEA Games in Indonesia but also at the Guangzhou Asian Games last year, the Asian Championships and the World Championships. Without a doubt, Chutchawal is likely to be the strongest challenger for Pen-Ek at the national selection trial.
The Taekwondo Association of Thailand will hold trials to select the strongest three in the men’s 58kg, women’s 49kg and women’s 57kg classes to represent the country at the Games.