The stunning Thai victory over title favourites South Korea followed the men’s individual poomsae bronze medal won by Pongporn Suvittayarak earlier in the day.
The poomsae (dance) discipline, which is an artistic exhibition of demanding movements, is featuring at the quadrennial Games for the first time.
Phenkanya Phaisankiattikun, Kotchawan Chomchuen and Ornawee Sirisahakit held on to their nerves and won the final by the slightest possible margin.
Celebrations broke out in the Thai camp as the Kingdom’s trio amassed 8.210 points for their efforts in the contest for top honours, while Gwak Yeo-Wan, Choi Don-Gah and Park Jae-Eun could manage an aggregate of 8.200.
The Thai team started the day with an overwhelming victory over India in the last 16 stage. Their next victims were Macau, winning the quarter-final with ease.
Phenkanya, Kotchawan and Ornawee were again at their best in the semi-finals when they convincingly ended Taiwan’s bid for a place in the final.
The 21-year-old Pongporn accumulated 8.490 points, which was not enough to help get the better of Kang Min-Sung of South Korea who carded 8.700 points in their men’s individual semi-final match-up.
Pongporn started off with a close 8.140-7.980 victory over Nguyen Thien Phung of Vietnam in the last 16 round, and followed it up with a quarter-final 8.320-8.080 win against Rodolfo Reyes Jr of the Philippines.
Kang took the gold medal in the event after beating Koorosh Bakhtiyar of Iran in the final.
In the women’s individual poomsae, Thailand’s Phenkanya Phaisankiattikun fell at the first hurdle, losing a close contest to Ji Yuhan of China.
The Thai men’s team of Pongporn, Chaiyasit Kwanboon and Nay Khamwongsa fared marginally better, bowing out in the quarter-finals after failing to match the Chinese trio of Zhu Yuxiang, Hu Mingda and Deng Tingfeng.
The Taekwondo Association of Thailand had promised to deliver at least one gold medal at the Games, and after yesterday’s success they can hope for another from the sport.
Thailand have fielded exponents in seven of the eight traditional taekwondo weight categories (four each for men and women).
Thailand can pin hopes on Panipak Wongpattanakit, who has won medals in several international tournaments, including the Youth Olympics, world championships, Asian championships and SEA Games.
Panipak, one of the best fighters in the world, was disappointed when she could only claim bronze at Incheon 2014. She was a favourite for gold at the 2016 Olympics but had to settle for a bronze.
Coached by Korean Choi Young-Seok, Thailand’s other gold medal contenders in Indonesia include Olympic silver medallist Tawin Hanprab and Ramnarong Sawekwiharee.
In volleyball, the Thai women’s team, who won bronze at Inchoen 2014, got off to a winning start yesterday.
Led by veteran captain Pleumjit Thinkaow, the Thais overcame the Philippines 3-0 (25-22, 25-12, 25-15) in their opening Group A match at Jakarta’s GBK Volleyball Indoor Stadium.
Thailand, who welcomed back middle blocker Thatdao Nuekjang after nearly two years out because of injury, will take on arch-rivals Japan in the second game on Thursday (Aug 12).
In sepak takraw yesterday, both the men and women’s team were off to triumphant starts in the team regu preliminary round.
The men defeated their arch rivals Malaysia 3-0 in the Group A match while the women’s team also beat Laos by the same scoreline in their Group A encounter.
In tennis, Palaphoom Kovapitukted advanced to the second round after beating Zayid Mubarak of Qatar 6-3, 6-4 in the men’s singles. Palapoom will face Kazakhstan’s Aleksandre Bublik in the next round.
In the mixed doubles event, Luksika Kumkhum and Sonchai Ratiwatana, who got a bye in the first round, beat Pakistan’s Abid Muhammad and Ushna Suhail 6-2, 6-0 to progress to the third round.
In badminton, the Thai men’s team crashed out after losing to defending champions South Korea 3-1 in the round of 16.
The Koreans, led by world No.5 Son Wan-Ho, will play Japan in the quarter-finals after the third seeds beat Malaysia 3-0 in the other round of 16 match.
The Thai women’s team, who received a first round bye, will play Taiwan in the quarter-finals today (Aug 20) after the Taiwanese beat Pakistan 3-0 in the first round.
In basketball competition, the women’s team defeated their Hong Kong opponents 86-76 in Group B.
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