Iron Maidens

Prapawadee won the gold medal.

“Thailand won a gold medal!”

I came running out of my cubicle and did my celebratory dance in the hallway at the office when I learned that Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakon brought Thailand the first 2008 Olympic gold.

My coworker David hollered from his office, “What sports?”

“Women’s weightlifting. Yes! Woohoo!”


“Yes, Dave.”

“Are you kidding?”

I got Dave out of his office and proceeded to show him the stats. Prapawadee lifted 221 kilograms (486.2 pounds).

“How big is this lady?”

“53 kilo. That’s 117 lbs.”

“Are you kidding me? She’s…tiny!”

“Oh, Dave, honey. And I haven’t told you what us girls did in Athens.”

2 gold and 3 bronzes in weightlifting, plus a bronze in Taekwondo. While the boys brought back one of each medal all in boxing.

In Beijing, the ladies are taking home one gold and another Taekwondo silver from Buttree Puenpong. The boys are bringing back the same 2 medals in boxing.

David REALLY stared at me now.

“WHAT exactly do they feed you girls over there?”

Once and for all, Thai women prove in the international stage, with the whole world watching, that we are not all Thai women are dainty little flowers, or, well, the pretty little hookers that some of them think we are.

In the sports where in Thailand traditionally considered men’s, weightlifting is not something a proper girl would do nor Taekwondo where you kick and punch somebody.

When I was younger, and before Taekwondo becomes a popular sport, the training center used to be just around the corner from my house, a stone throw from the ballet studio. 2 sons of my mom’s best friends were training there and I wanted to do it too. My mom said no because “it’s not a girl’s sport.”

I don’t think the “Not a Proper Girl Thing To Do” antics may have just been fadiing away these past 10 years. Especially with the success at the 2004 Olympics, doors have been flung open and ceilings came shattering down for Thai girls everywhere to pursue whatever sports they would like. And the continuing success of our ladies would pave the way for future generations to be world class athletes.

We can kick butt, and quite literally too for Buttree, and take names. We can be whoever and whatever we want to be.

Girl power, indeed.

Oh, and for the record, I did eventually get Taekwondo lesson later when I started dating Brandon who was going for his second black belt at the time. Made it 2 steps away from a black belt before an ankle injury benched me for good. So there. 😉

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