Taekwondo champ Panipak wins gold at World Grand Prix
Her nickname is “Tennis” but she aces in martial arts. Panipak “Tennis” Wongpattanakit who won a gold medal in taekwondo for Thailand in the 2020 Olympics, captured another gold medal in the second stage of the World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Paris last week.
Her victory earned her crucial qualifying points for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Panikpak’s goal is to win her second gold medal for Thailand in the Korean-originated martial art, and she is training hard to do it.
“On the mat, Panipak is an impressive and skilled warrior with multiple weapons at her command,” wrote the Thai PBS World website. “While off the mat, she is a sweet, happy-go-lucky girl who likes to relax in front of the TV. Her favorite series are romantic comedies, and she also loves playing with dogs.”
The World Taekwondo Grand Prix is a series of four major tournaments spread throughout the year. The third stage will be held in Manchester, England in October, the final stage will be the Wuxi 2022 World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final in China in December.
Panipak faced a formidable challenge in the second stage, taking on 2022 European Champion Merve Dinçel in the 49 kilogram weight division. Nonetheless, she overwhelmed her Turkish opponent, winning the final 2-0 with a score of 6-0 and 11-6.
The 25-year-old martial artist hails from the southern province of Surat Thani, where she first began studying the discipline at age nine. Her father encouraged her participation in the sport and she won a gold medal at the 2011 Thailand Youth Games. There, she was spotted by the Thai national Taekwondo team coach, South Korea’s Choi Young-Seok who took her under his wing and elevated her skills.
Her first Olympics were the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she captured a bronze medal. In the 2020 games in Tokyo, Japan, she fought her way to Thailand’s first gold medal of those games.
Photo courtesy of http://worldtaekwondo.org/wtnews/