Kunlavut, Panipak win top honours

Kunlavut, Panipak win top honours

Paphangkorn named pro athlete of the year

Tokyo Olympic taekwondo champion Panipak Wongpattanakit receives the best female amateur athlete of the year award from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at a ceremony at Bangkok's Indoor Stadium on Thursday.
Tokyo Olympic taekwondo champion Panipak Wongpattanakit receives the best female amateur athlete of the year award from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at a ceremony at Bangkok's Indoor Stadium on Thursday.

Badminton player Kunlavut Vitidsarn and taekwondo star Panipak Wongpattanakit were named the best male and female amateur athletes of the year respectively by the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) on Thursday.

Golfer Patty Tavatanakit was selected as the best professional athlete while Nattapol Saenkla (Lamnammoonlek Teeded 99) received the best Muay Thai fighter award.

The SAT announced the award recipients at a ceremony at Bangkok's Indoor Stadium presided over by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The annual event is normally held on National Sports Day on Dec 16 to honour the late King Rama IX, who himself was a fine athlete in several disciplines.

His Majesty won a gold medal in sailing at the Southeast Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games (now the SEA Games) in 1967.

He claimed the title on Dec 16, which has since become Thailand's National Sports Day.

Former three-time world junior champion Kunlavut, 20, was Thailand's first ever shuttler to reach the title match at the World Tour Finals earlier this month.

Panipak, now 24, was Thailand's only gold medallist at the 2020 Olympics.

She took the women's 49kg gold medal after defeating Spain's Adriana Cerezo Iglesias 11-10 with a last-gasp kick in the final.

The Surat Thani native, who also won bronze at the 2016 Olympics, is currently the top-ranked exponent in the 49kg class.

Panipak, nicknamed Tennis, beat Olympic boxing bronze medallist Sudaporn Seesondee for the SAT award.

Sudaporn was Thailand's only other medal winner at Tokyo 2020.

Patty, whose Thai name is Paphangkorn, won her breakthrough LPGA title at the ANA Inspiration.

With the success, she became the only second golfer from the Kingdom to win a major title after Ariya Jutanugarn.

Patty, 22, also claimed the Annika Major Award as the year's best performer overall in five majors and the LPGA Rookie of the Year honours.

She was the SAT's top pick ahead of teenage golfer Atthaya Thititul who won two tournaments on the Ladies European Tour, and earned LPGA Tour membership last week.

The best team awards went to the boccia team, the blind football team, mixed doubles badminton duo Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai, and the men's futsal team.

The boccia team won gold in the BC1-2 event at the 2020 Paralympics.

Dechapol and Sapsiree have won seven titles this year and are now world No.1 mixed doubles pair.

The blind football squad were the first Thai team to compete in the Paralympics in this discipline, while the men's futsal team reached the last-16 round at the World Cup.

Badminton player Sujirat Pukkam, who bagged one silver and one bronze at the Tokyo Paralympics, was named the best female disabled athlete.

The men's title went to wheelchair racer Pongsakorn Paeyo, who was the country's most successful athlete at Tokyo with three gold medals.

Tessana Phanvisavas (badminton) won the best coach in the amateur category, while Dusit Chalermsan (football) was the best coach in professional sports.

Panipak's coach Choi Young-Seok received the valuable person award.

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