Thailand’s Paralympic athletes returned home from the 14th Games in London to a hero’s welcome yesterday after making a big impact, capturing four gold, two silver and two bronze medals to finish 31st overall.
Of the 4,294 athletes from 164 countries taking part in London, Thailand sent 50 (39 men and 11 women) to compete in 10 sports. Their initial target was two gold medals.
Rungroj Thainiyom ignited Thai pride by handing the country its first gold, winning the men’s individual table tennis title.
The other gold medals came from the four-man boccia team led by Pattaya Tadtong, and fencer Saysunee Jana in the women’s individual epee. Pattaya went out with a bang after winning his second gold, in the men’s individual boccia a few days before the Thais’ return home.
The Thai athletes were greeted at 3pm yesterday at Suvarnbhumi Airport by Sombat Kuruphan, assistant minister for tourism and sports, Sports Authority of Thailand governor Kanokpan Jullakasem, Thai Paralympic Committee Foundation chairman Jutinan Bhirombhakdi, their families and a large crowd of fans, who cheered and waved Thai flags. Bouquets of flowers were presented to athletes, some of whom were reduced to tears by the emotion.