Kunlavut, Panipak take top honours
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Kunlavut, Panipak take top honours

Somkiat, Chanettee earn Swat accolades

Winners of the 2023 Sport Writers Association of Thailand (Swat) awards pose with their trophies yesterday. (Photo supplied)
Winners of the 2023 Sport Writers Association of Thailand (Swat) awards pose with their trophies yesterday. (Photo supplied)

There were no surprises as badminton ace Kunlavut Vitidsarn and taekwondo doyenne Panipak Wongpattanakit walked away with the top 2023 Sport Writers Association of Thailand (Swat) awards on Tuesday.

The annual event was presided over by Minister for Tourism and Sports Sermsak Pongpanit.

Also attending the function were Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul, a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and Thana Chaiprasit, vice president of the Olympic Committee Thailand.

The top performers in the men and women's professional sports were motorcycle rider Somkiat Chantra and LPGA golfer Chanettee Wannasaen respectively.

Kunlavut was the obvious choice for the best male amateur athlete of the year award after becoming the first Thai ever to win the men's world badminton singles title last year.

Panipak stood out with her gold-winning performance in the 49kg class of the taekwondo competitions at the Hangzhou Asian Games. The Asian Games were originally scheduled to be held in 2022 but were postponed to last year due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

A victory in the Moto2 race at the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix proved enough for Somkiat to land the men's top professional athlete of the year award.

The 20-year-old Chanettee im- pressed the selection committee with her victory in the 2023 Portland Classic of the LPGA Tour to earn the women's top honours for best professional athlete.

The pick for the male young athlete of the year was weightlifter Weeraphon Wichuma, who tasted success in the 73kg category at two qualifying events for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

Teenage shuttler Pitchamon Opatniputh claimed the best young athlete of the year award thanks to her triumph in the world youth badminton championships last year.

The best team (sport) award went to the national women's volleyball squad for winning the Asian crown.

The best team (event) were the Thai women's table tennis team, who won a historic bronze medal at Hangzhou Asian Games -- their first ever medal in 57 years.

Buriram United were again named the best professional team (pro sport) after they swept all domestic titles -- the Thai League 1, League Cup and FA Cup.

The women's golf team of Atthaya Thitikul, Patty Tavatanakit, Moriya Jutanugarn and Ariya Jutanugarn were named the best team (pro event) following their victory at the LPGA International Crown match play event in the United States.

Wijan Ponlid, of the Thai women's boxing team, won the best amateur coach award while Japanese tactician Masatada Ishii, currently coach of the Thai national men's football team, was honoured in the professional category for leading Buriram's all conquering season last year.

Tawanchai PK Saenchaimuaythaigym took the best Muay Thai fighter crown while Songpayak Boomdeksian was voted the rising star of the discipline.

Wheelchair racer Athiwat Paeng-nuea and wheelchair fencer Saysunee Jana were voted the best male and female handicapped athletes of 2023.

The golf association was the pick of the national associations.

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