Gold medalist Noppakao receives hero’s welcome in Sattahip

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Sattahip residents turned out in force on Monday, November 29, to welcome home 15-year old sailor Noppakao Poonpat who won a gold medal in the Optimist dinghy class at the just recently completed 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.

Prasith Luangthong, Director of Singsamut School where Noppakao studies, school administrators, teachers, lectures and students were in line to welcome the young sailing star, otherwise known as “Nong Nine”, before taking her on an honor procession around the city.

Noppakao Poonpat, flanked by fellow student teammates from the 2010 Asian Games, shows off her sailing gold medal in an open topped parade around Sattahip, Monday, November 29. Noppakao Poonpat, flanked by fellow student teammates from the 2010 Asian Games, shows off her sailing gold medal in an open topped parade around Sattahip, Monday, November 29.

Noppakao was joined on the parade by five other students who represented Thailand at the Asian Games; namely Patheera Mee-yoosamsen, Narisara Yoosawas, Athiwat Chomthongdee and Tossapol Mahawichien, who all competed in the sailing and windsurfing categories, and Ransima Nisaisom who represented the Kingdom in the Taekwondo competition.

Director Prasith said that all Thailand should be proud of the students who had all performed admirable against more experienced competitors from other nations.

Noppakao said she was elated to win a gold medal for Thailand and thanked the Sailing Association of Thailand, Singsamut School, and last but not least her parents, who have all supported her through her fledgling sailing career to date.

“One of the proudest moments for me was representing Thailand at the World Championships in Brazil last year and winning the gold medal.  But this equals it,” said the beaming youngster.

“Both places have strengthened me to gain more experience and to try and improve further to be up to the world standard (for sailing competition),” she said, adding that  after finishing the Mathayomsueksa Grade 6, she said she would like to follow in her older sister’s footsteps and study at the Navy Nursing School in Bangkok.

“Nong Nine” will be heading to Langkawi in Malaysia later this month to compete in the 2010 World Sailing Championships where she will be attempting to defend her Optimist title.