Thai taekwondo bronze medalist returns home to hero’s welcome

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SONGKHLA, Aug 21 — Hundreds of Thais turned out at Songkhla’s Hat Yai airport this morning to welcome Chanatip Sonkham, a bronze medalist from London Olympic Games who is returning her hometown in Phatthalung.

Chanatip or ‘Nong Lek’ won an Olympic bronze medal in women’s taekwondo in the under-49kg category.

Phatthalung Governor Winyu Thongsakul led Ms Chanatip’s famliy and Phatthalung residents to greet her at the airport on her trip back home for the first time after returinng from London last Tuesday.

Students from Satree Phatthalung, Ms Chanatip’s old secondary school, lined up to welcome her with a parade escort of drummers and a marching band.

Upon arrival, her mother, father and local agencies gave her bouquets to congratulate her for her success.

After that she went by convertible in a motorcade to her home town in Phatthalung while Thai sports fans lining the route gave her a warm welcome.

Mrs Natchaya, Chanathip’s mother, said she has prepared a traditional gaeng som, a sour soup, her daughter’s favourite dish, to welcome her home.

Ms Chanatip began her Olympic gold quest by outclassing her Russian opponent to score a 13-1 victory over Kristina Kim in her preliminary round and then dominating Yang Shu-Chun from Taiwan by 6-0 in the quarterfinal.

However, Ms Chanatip’s path to an elusive gold medal ended after she lost her third bout to Spain’s three-time world champion Brigitte Yague 10-9.

The Thai fighter finally landed a bronze medal by beating Guatemala’s Elizabeth Zamora 8-0 to win the bronze medal.

Thailand received three medals overall from the from London Olympic Game, which in addition to Ms Chanatip’s prize included a silver medal from boxer Kaeo Pongprayoon, a bronze medal from weightlifter Pimsiri Sirikaew.