Historic march for a Thai athlete in Finland

ATHLETICS: Former national team athlete Thanaporn Asawawongcharoen has made history by becoming the first Thai in nearly half a century to win a medal at the World Masters Athletics Championships.

Thumbs up from Thanapoporn. Photo: Phuket Sports Association

Thanaporn won a silver medal in the women’s 10,000 meter race walk in the 40-45 age category last Wednesday (June 29) at the championships in Tampere, Finland.

The 44-year-old Thai finished with a time of 1 hour 1 minute and 3 seconds to take second place behind Spain’s Isabel Perez Belloch who clocked 55m 48s. Heidi Ahvenus from Finland finished third with a time of 1h 2m 43s.

With her podium, Thanaporn became the first Thai athlete, male or female, to win a medal at the championships, which have been running since 1975.

Medal success was all the sweeter for Thanaporn as she had to overcome many obstacles that threatened to hinder her performance.

She explained after the race that upon arrival at the airport in Finland, the luggage of several Thai team members was reported lost, including luggage containing equipment and shoes.

“It meant we had to rush to get some new shoes right before the event,” Thanaporn said on his Facebook page.

“There was no appropriate place to try on the new shoes and test them before the race and one pair in particular had never been used before by an athlete in a race,” he said. she adds.

The day before the event, Thanaporn suffered a severe migraine which she attributed to the long journey, lack of rest and the stress of having to get new shoes.

“All the stress of the lost luggage situation meant that I hadn’t eaten or prepared properly,” she said. “I managed to eat bread and rice and drink juice, but that wasn’t the usual prep for me before a big event.”

However, despite all the many pre-race hurdles, Thanaporn was able to boost morale and performance to secure a historic finish on race day.

“The result came from self-confidence because when you’re on the track, you just have to fight until the end, no matter the circumstances,” she said.

“I consider this a major life experience and I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved,” she concluded.

The biennial championships are for track and field athletes between the ages of 35 and 80. It is open to all male and female athletes and does not require any qualification standards apart from athletes who must be members of their respective national organization. This year’s championships in Tampere run from June 29 to July 10.

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