Published on August 8, 2007
She is the single most influential factor in taekwondo becoming a popular sport in Thailand. "I'm very happy to be seen as an role model for countless Thai youngsters. It will be great if they follow inmy footsteps and chase their own dreams," Yaowapa says.
The Athens Olympics heroine, who says that the key to her success is devotion, determination and a strong will to win, wants to repay their faith with a gold at the 24th Universiade.
"I always try to give my best in any competition. I train doubly hard when I represent the country," said Yaowapa, who is called "Nong View" by her friends.
"I am as determined as my fellow athletes to give joy to the people of the country. I got a silver in Turkey two years ago and I don't want history to repeat itself. My expectations are much higher. I will go for the gold," she said.
Underlining her raw talent, speed and mental strength, Yaowapa claimed gold at the Asian and World Cup Team Championships at home last year.
In the World Championships in Beijing recently, Yaowapa clinched a silver, going down to old foe Chinese Wu Jingyu, who was beaten in the finals of the Asian and the World Cup Team Championships.
"I've been training intensively for the Universiade. Sometimes, I feel discouraged by the exhausting schedule, but I don't want to give up. I'm considered as one of the best bets for our country and I don't want to disappoint anyone," Yaowapa says.
Victory never comes easily in any sport. Yaowapa says she has a daunting task ahead as rivals from South Korea, China and Japan will make her path difficult.
"Taekwondo has gained tremendous popularity all over the world. Several countries have spawned new stars, developed their skills and sent them for overseas training and competitions. It has become tougher than ever before.
"I have never underestimated any rival. There are several factors that helps one to win a gold medal in a major competition like the Universiade. The draw, the conditions of the competition venue and physical fitness are vital. But as the saying goes, success breeds success.
"I am 100 per cent fit for the battle ahead. A large crowd will turn out to cheer me and nothing will stop me from achieving my goal," says Yaowapa, who will compete in the flyweight category.
Though confident, Yaowapa feels there is still room for improvement and she has a lot to learn. "I have to improve my speed and tactics," she said modestly.
The taekwondo competition will take place from tomorrow until August 13 at Gymnasium 6 inside Thammasat Rangsit Sports Complex. Yaowapa will test her luck on the final day.
In Izmir two years ago, Thailand returned with three medals. Patiwat Tongsalap won the gold while Yaowapa and Laksami Yoomankong claimed silver and bronze respectively.