The man who did it was 25-year-old table-tennis star Rungroj Thainiyom, who stunned Spanish top seed Alvaro Valera (11-8, 11-8, 12-10) in just 18 minutes to win the men’s singles class 6 table tennis title at the ExCel Arena in London.
It was Thailand’s 10th gold medal in Paralympic history, and the first from table tennis.
“I’m so happy to win the gold medal for Thailand,” Rungroj told the Bangkok Post. “Before the match I was a bit worried because I played him [Alvaro] before and lost. But in a way, it was good because I didn’t have any pressure today.
“I had nothing to lose today; I was not expected to win, so I was relaxed.
“I’m so happy I made it. This gold medal is for everyone back home.”
Rungroj told the International Table Tennis Federation’s (ITTF) website: “My coach had a vision that if I shaved my hair, then Buddha would help me. So last night I shaved off all my hair and Buddha helped.”
After the historic win, Rungroj dug into his bag to uncover a framed portrait of His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej.
“The photograph of the King of Thailand brought me luck,” Rungroj told the ITTF site. “I dedicate my victory to the king!”
Rungroj will reportedly be rewarded with a B4 million cash incentive by the National Sports Development Fund.
Meanwhile, Thailand’s most successful Paralympic athlete, Prawat Wahoram, managed fifth in the final of the men’s 5000m wheel-chair race.