Battling Thai Nacha settles for silver
[TAEKWONDO] Korea ruled the roast on the opening day of the 17th Asian Taekwondo Championships yesterday, capturing three of the four gold medals on offer.
The hosts had something to cheer about as Thai bantamweight Nacha Punthong picked up a silver, the very first medal he has won in his fledgling career.
The 19-year-old from Nonthaburi, who has yet to win a single title in any major international competition, was beaten by the experienced Korean, Park Tae-youl, who won 4-1.
En route to the final, Nacha brushed off India's Surendra Bhandari 6-3 in the first round and eliminated Filipino Go Tshomlee 5-3 in the second.
The Thai got a big applause from a largely partisan crowd at the Hua Mark Indoor Stadium when he outlasted Vietnam's Vu Anh Tuan, a bronze medallist in Seongnam, South Korea, two years ago, 10-6.
In the semi-finals, Nacha did not let his supporters down, beating Jordan's Thamer Qaltouqah 8-6.
Meanwhile, Park had to sweat it out to beat Iran's Mohammadreza Mehdiz 7-3 in the other semis.
Against Park in the final, Nacha landed a powerful kick to the Korean's ribcage to lead 1-0 in the opener, but Park fought back fiercely, landing a fist to Nacha's face and a kick to the chest. The score was tied at 1-1, but half a point was deducted from Nacha's total as the referee felt he showed no resistance to Park's pounding. Both traded kicks and punches in the final round and the Thai received another half-point deduction. The Korean took the gold medal. Silver apart, Nacha is now guaranteed Bt360,000 from sponsors and the Sports Authority of Thailand.
"Winning a silver medal is not that bad, I think. I am a bit upset that I could not win the gold. My coach Choi Young-seok told me to watch his left kick but I forgot his advice. I am just waiting for the Asian Games in Doha. Hopefully, I can avenge the loss," Nacha said.
Korea claimed two gold medals in the women's section through bantamweight Lee Sung-hye, a champion in the World University Games in Izmir, Turkey, last year and middleweight Jung Sun-young.
Lee proved her superiority over Tajikistan's Trubitsina Ekaterina, brushing off her challenge 8-3 in the final.
Jung, a bronze medallist in the World Championships in Madrid last year and also at the Universiade, stunned China's Liu Rui, a champion in the Izmir meet, in sudden death after three rounds produced a 5-5 tie.
Kazakhstan's Chilmanov Arman took the remaining gold in the men's middleweight after powering past Aussie Adam Corrigan 8-2.
Another Thai, Laksami Yumankong went down to the Philippines' Catalan Ioraine Lorelie.