Choi Young-Seok joined coaches from Dragon Gym and Thammawat Wongcharoenyos, President of the Phuket Sports Association, at the Vijitt Resort in Rawai for an interactive session aimed at introducing and honing specific techniques to help grow the sport locally and produce future champions.
Coach Choi had helped Panipak Wongpattanakit to Olympic glory in Tokyo last year when the then 23-year-old from Surat Thani defeated Spain’s Adriana Cerezo Iglesias 11-10 with a dramatic, final-second kick, becoming the first Thai to win a medal at the Games. The celebrations between Panipak and her coach afterwards, both draped in Thai flags, is something that will be long remembered.
Panipak then won her third straight SEA Games gold medal in Hanoi, Vietnam on May 18 this year in the women’s 49kg class.
She was rightfully lauded on both occcasions but she was quick to emphasise the importance and value of her coach in helping achieve her goals.
South Korean Choi was named coach of the year for amateur athletes at the National Sports Awards in Bangkok last December and was granted Thai citizenship by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in February, helping him achieve a long-term dream.
“I want to be Thai and want to be known as a Thai Olympic medal-winning coach, not a Korean coach for the Thai national team,” he said prior to Tokyo 2020.
On receiving his citizenship, Choi was bestowed the Thai name Chatchai Choi by Chao Khun Thongchai, a senior monk at Wat Traimit.
The 47-year-old has been plying his trade in Thailand for 20 years now and the sport has flourished under his tutorship. In addition to Panipak’s Olympic gold, Thailand has won five golds at the Asian Games, and 48 gold at the SEA Games.
He has also been instrumental in developing Phuket’s Thanakrit Yodrak, who won gold in the men’s 58kg category on his SEA Games debut last month.
Thanakrit previously won a bronze medal at the 2017 World Cadet Taekwondo Championships in Egypt and gold medals in both the Belgium Youth Open in 2018 and the China Youth Open 2019 in China.