Thanaporn won a silver medal in the women’s 10,000 metre walking event in the 40-45-year age category last Wednesday (June 29) at the championships being held in Tampere, Finland.
The 44-year-old Thai finished with a time of 1 hour 1 minute and 3 seconds to claim second place behind Spain’s Isabel Perez Belloch who clocked a time of 55m 48s. Heidi Ahvenus of Finland finished third with a time of 1h 2m 43s.
With her podium finish Thanaporn became the first Thai athlete, male or female, to secure a medal at the championships, which have been running since 1975.
The medal success was all the sweeter for Thanaporn as she had to overcome numerous obstacles which threatened to hinder her performance.
She explained after the race that on arriving at the airport in Finland the luggage belonging to several members of the Thai team was declared lost, including baggage that contained kit and shoes.
“It meant we had to rush out to acquire new footwear immediately prior to the event,” Thanaporn said on her Facebook page.
“There was no appropriate place to try on the new shoes and test them before the race and one particular pair had never been used before by an athlete in a walking race,” she added.
On the day immediately prior to the event, Thanaporn experienced a severe migrain that she attributed to the long journey, lack of rest and the stress of having to source new shoes.
“All the stress from the lost luggage situation meant I did not eat or prepare properly,” she said. “I managed to eat some bread and rice and drink some juice but it wasn’t the usual preparation for me prior to a big event.”
However, despite all the numerous pre-race obstacles, Thanaporn was able to lift her spirits and performance to secure a historic finish on the day of the race.
“The result came from self-confidence as, when you are on the track, you just have to fight to the end, no matter the circumstance,” she said.
“I consider it a major life experience and am very proud of what I achieved,” she concluded.
The biennial championships are for track and field athletes aged between 35-80-years. It is open to all male and female athletes and does not require any qualification standards aside from the athletes must be members of their respective national organisation. This year’s championships in Tampere runs from June 29-July 10.