Previous taekwondo hopefuls managed a bronze and a bronze in 2004 and 2008 but no Thais have yet achieved the ultimate Olympic prize. However, Pen-ek could secure that breakthrough win.
Pen-ek said: “I always expect a gold medal in every event I compete in. I never think, ‘Oh I’ll do my best and that’s good enough!’ Because you never know what your opponent is going to come up with.
“Everyone wants gold at the Olympics but there is only one winner. I must make it”.
However, Pen-ek may have a problem during the London Games. He is most comfortable in the 54kg category, but the minimum weight class in London is 58kg which means he’s up against bigger men.
Asked if that was a concern, he said: “No, it doesn’t matter. Some are good, some are not so good. Taekwondo is a sport where you can change from being a winner to a loser very quickly. So I must fight extremely hard to beat everyone”.
Pen-ek announced himself to the world with a gold medal at the World Championships in 2010. He showed the kind of quick reactions that would have made him a star in his country’s martial art of Muay Thai.
He said: “I have been thinking about the Olympics since before I was in the national team. I always wanted to go to the Olympics. I didn’t have a taekwondo idol. My idol was [2000 Olympic boxing champion] Wijan Ponlid after I watched him in the 2000 Olympic final. I liked him so I told my dad I wanted to go to the Olympics. Since that time it’s been my dream”.
That dream is about to become reality _ London is calling and a city with some of the most famous buildings in the world waits.
“I’m looking forward to being in London. It’s beautiful and I’m studying architecture. Some people don’t have a chance to visit other countries but I have that chance.”
Pen-ek’s love for architecture has seen him being involved in a building project to help his fellow citizens whose lives were tragically affected by the months of flooding that paralysed the city of Bangkok last year.
Pen-ek wants to change the world with his architecture, and he wants to be the first Thai to win an Olympic gold medal in taekwondo.
This is a man for whom second place isn’t good enough. After all, his name Pen-ek can loosely mean “to be No.1” in Thai.
Source: Bangkok Post