Heartbreak for Yaowapa in the final
Athens Olympics heroine Yaowapa Boorapolchai suffered a bitter loss in the final of the World Taekwondo Championships at the hands of her old rival Wu Jingyu on the opening day in Beijing, shattering Thailand’s dream of winning their firstever gold in the world meet.
Yaowapa, the odds- on favourite to win the gold for the Kingdom in the May 18- 22 world meet, beat Wu in two finals last year, the Asian Championships and the World Cup Team Championships, both on Thai soil.
The disappointing 0-5 loss to Wu, who became the first Chinese to win Asiad taekwondo gold in Doha last year, was therefore a sweet revenge for the Chinese ace.
Yaowapa, the silver medallist at the Izmir- hosted World University Games in Turkey two years ago, performed superbly in early rounds. After the firstround bye, she beat Mexican Isis Vargas 7- 0 before the referee stepped in to stop the onesided contest in the first round.
She continued her remarkable form in the third round with a convincing 6-1 win over French Tran Emilie to storm into the quarter- finals, where she narrowly beat Croat Lucija Zaninovic 4-3. The Thai fans had something to cheer about when she advanced to the final following a 2-0 triumph over American Charlotte Craig in the semi- finals.
Wu also proved that her victory in Doha was no fluke, as she tamed Taiwanese Yang Shuchun, whom she had beaten in the Asiad final, to take on Yaowapa in the final showdown. However, the in-form Chinese was too strong for the Thai challenger before a home crowd as she landed powerful kicks to Yaowapa’s body to wrap up the match 5-0.
Though Yaowapa picked up the only silver medal, it was the best result Thai exponents have ever produced in a world meet. Since the 16th edition in Germany four years ago, where Thailand won their first two bronze medals, Thai fighters have never returned with medals better than bronze. Two years ago in Madrid, they won only two bronze medals, from Dech Sutthikulkarn and Chonnapas Premwaew.
The other two Thais, Choothong Prasongpetch and Luksamee Yoomunkong, lost in the second round.