Gold brings riches and fame for Sopita

Gold brings riches and fame for Sopita

Sopita Tanasan reacts after a successful lift. (Reuters photo)
Sopita Tanasan reacts after a successful lift. (Reuters photo)

Twenty-two year old weightlifter Sopita Tanasan who grabbed the first gold for Thailand in the Rio Games on Sunday is set to become a millionaire with at least 12 million baht in financial rewards promised by the private sector and people in her home province of Chumphon.

Chumphon Provincial Administration Organisation and the province’s sports association on Sunday planned to raise at least one million baht through donations for Sopita, a native of Sawi district who won the gold medal in the women's 48kg.

A former Democrat MP for the province, Chumpon Joonsai, said the president of the PAO and the sports association will each put in 100,000 baht, plus with an undecided amount from him. Chumphon residents will be persuaded to show their appreciation for Sopita for bringing joy and fame to the province. 

Ichitan Group Plc, the maker of Ichitan ready-to-drink green tea, meanwhile, announced an offer of 10 million baht for Sopita, while Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS), the country's largest mobile phone operator, will add one million baht in recognition of her success. 

Sopita, also known as Nong Nan, who is making her Olympic debut, won gold in the women’s 48kg class at 5am Sunday, Thailand time. A cheering crowd of 300 neighbours and local officials watched the live broadcast of Sopita’s weightlifting match from a giant screen at her family home in Moo 8 village of Wisai sub-district. 

Provincial authorities will meet on Monday to plan a reception for Sopita when she arrives home. Education officials also plan to display a photo of her on the Olympic podium with the gold medal at local schools to inspire other youngsters.

"Nong Nan is strong and has loved playing sports from a young age,” said her uncle Chartnarong Moonsak. “The kind of kid who is determined, decisive and, once she plans to do something, she has to make it.”

Mr Chartnarong said he had witnessed Sopita’s passion for sport since she was in grade six and he knew ever since that she would become a successful athlete.  

Dropping down from the 53kg class, Sopita is among the Thai athletes who were expected to add medals to the Thai tally at the Games. While competing in the 53kg division, Sopita lifted 195kg to claim the silver medal at the Junior World Championships in 2014 and finished fourth with a total of 210kg at the World Championships last year.

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