Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Olympic Chief Yutthasak Sasiprapa has decided not to protest to the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) over the hugely controversial decision that effectively denied light flyweight Kaew Pongprayoon the gold medal at the London Olympic Games.
The Philippines Mark Anthony Barriga suffered the same fate when the referee in his bout against Zakhypov slapped the little Filipino with a penalty that cost him two points in the dying moments of the last round in a fight he lost by one.
Kaew lost to China’s back-to-back champion Zou Shiming after dropping all three rounds by one point despite hammering Zou in the third with fight fans booing the decision and Kaew falling down on the canvas in tears.
The Bangkok Post reported that Sasiprapa said they want to find ways to prevent a repeat of the same problem in the future rather than look to the past.
Gen. Yutthasak said the outcome of the light-flyweight (49kg) final on Saturday, in which Kaew was defeated 10-13, “is what I had expected.”
AIBA president Wu Ching Kuo once reportedly told Gen Yutthasak that Thailand would get one gold medal in boxing, but Yutthasak claimed “that was just an expression of friendship.When we faced China and the chance was 50-50, we have to face the outcome,” he said.
The Deputy Prime Minister said there were many problems with amateur boxing and Thailand Boxing Association president Gen Boonlert Kaewprasit knows what they are.
Hundreds of people flocked to the airport to give the Thai medalists a heroes welcome with Kaew being heralded as the people’s gold medalist.
In a touching scene Kaew hugged his father Kam and mother Mali when he met them. The fighter told his mother “II love you most.I missed you a lot. I don’t have anything special for you today except love,” to which his mother replied “You did your best.”
Top executives of several companies who had put in place a bonus scheme for medal winners were at the airport to hand out checks and cash to the medal winners.
The Bangkok Post reported that one businessman was at the airport with 10 million baht in cash (P 13.3 million) in his briefcase and deposited the money in Kaew’s account at a bank there.
“You unanimously win Thais’ hearts, so we give you a special prize,” said an executive of another company who gave Kaew a one-million-baht (P1.3M)
After a colorful motorcade the athletes were welcomed by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at a government reception at the Siam Paragon shopping mall.
Kaew and Pimsiri “Nong Taew” Sirikaew , the weightlifting silver medalist, each received six million baht (P7.8M) from the premier. Under the government’s bonus program for Olympians, a silver medalist gets three million baht (P3.9M) in cash and the rest in monthly salary over five years.
“I am glad to make Thais happy,” Kaew told reporters. “I did my best and we should accept the result.”
Kaew is expected to receive over 20 million baht ( P26.65 M) in financial rewards from the government and private sector.
Thailand won two silver and one bronze medals at the London Games which was their worst Olympic showing for 16 years.
It was the first time that Thailand failed to win gold at the Olympics since boxer Somluck Kamsing won Thailand’s first-ever Olympic top prize in 1996.