Some people say that being a champion is hard, but that remaining a champion is even harder. A little warrior champion named Siriporn was going to prove this in her second tae kwon do competition.
This match was very different fromSiriporn was burdened by the expectation of others.
She was known as a champion from having won her last tournament. Everyone in the child development center and from her province expected her to return home a champion again with a gold medal hanging from her neck. She felt like she could not return home unless it was as a winner. She wanted to bring glory for her hometown and to her family.
However, no one knew that the champion was not prepared to fight.
Siriporn and the Thai Chareuntham Child Development Center had earned a prestigious reputation in her province after they returned from a tae kwon do competition in which Siriporn and other children from the center fought incredibly well.
Even though it was their first competition, Siriporn received a gold medal and her friends at the center won four silver medals and two bronze medals. Seven of the nine children from the center won a medal from the competition.
This year the center sent five tae kwon do fighters to compete in a match conducted by the Sports Authority of Thailand. This match was much smaller compared to the last matches they attended, but the center and the children were eager to attend the games to gain more experience and to prove that they were a force to be reckoned with.
“Before the competition I came to practice every day with the seniors at the center after school for several months,” said a small 9-year old boy named Warrakan. It was his first time competing, so he turned to Siriporn, the experienced champion, for assistance.
Siriporn helped him practice and train at the center. She gave him advice and strategies to improve his fighting. This increased Siriporn’s workload as she now had two jobs: training others as well as herself.
In February, the center brought five registered children and their mothers to a tae kwon do competition. The stadium was packed with hundreds of people including more than 200 young fighters from all over Thailand. The energy and excitement from the spectators could be felt in the air.
Warrakan was chosen first to compete because he was the youngest of all the children.
Instead of rushing to the floor, he first gathered with the other children and the center staff in a circle to pray. They knew that God is the only One who could have brought them this far. They also believed it was God Who enabled them to have the wonderful opportunity to compete as tae kwon do fighters, allowing them to display their talents despite coming from an impoverished background.
The young Warrakan did not fail his teammates. He won his first gold medal and then brought it to his mother, who accompanied him to the match. His mother could not stop smiling and holding him proudly after his final round.
The remaining four children also fought impressively well. Each child received a gold medal, which surpassed the center’s expectation. They had only hoped to win two gold medals and maybe three silver medals.
“I am very proud of my son and am so grateful that he is registered in the center,” said the mother of gold-medal winner Teerapong. “The center has been very good in supporting my child in so many ways. The center has given him the opportunity to play sports, which has given him the skills to know how to protect himself, make new friends, and teach him skills for life. I would like to see this activity carried on further.”
The time had finally arrived for our champion Siriporn to fight her final match. She sat quietly by herself on the bench and tried to collect her scattered thoughts and focus on the upcoming match.
The champ tried so hard to ignore the aching muscle pain she developed from a fever she contracted before the competition as well as from kicks to her body from previous games.
“I was so exhausted. My body was not ready for a heavy match like this.
“I got so little sleep in the past few months studying for my exams. Every day I would go to practice at the center after school for about three hours, then return home to complete my homework and study until 1 or 2 a.m.
“I would wake up at 6 in the morning every day.”
After watching her teammates all win goal medals, Siriporn could feel the anxiety and pressure to win building up inside her. She felt the weight of a million tons upon her shoulders. But it was now her time to step onto the floor and fight with all her strength.
“Just leave all your worries behind and trust in God alone,” Siriporn spoke to herself after she prayed to the Lord.
As Siriporn stepped onto the fighting floor, she could not believe her eyes. Her tae kwon do opponent was overwhelmingly big compared to her petite frame.
Her opponent was categorized in a higher belt rank level and she was the representative from her province, who was going to attend Thailand’s National Student Sports competition in March.
Siriporn felt like she was fighting against a strong wall but she did not lose her courage. She won her first point by kicking her opponent’s side.
Her match was very intense and so full of excitement that it drew hundreds of people toward her fighting floor to watch the match more closely.
Siriporn’s opponent kicked her in the stomach and earned points from it. Siriporn’s opponent smiled confidently, knowing a gold medal was not far away.
But Siriporn lay down on the floor, her hands clutching her aching stomach.
“God I am so tired. Please give me the strength to fight again. I don’t have any energy left to get up. Help me and guide me, Lord.”
God was faithful as he helped and answered the prayers of his beloved daughter.
Siriporn gathered all the strength that was left in her. She was determined to win this match.
After she finished her last kick she ran to a center staff who had been training her. She could not believe that she had won the match! She was so overjoyed but at the same time incredibly exhausted as she received her gold medal.
“I am very proud of my daughter. Last year I did not come to see her match, but this year I wanted to cheer her on and support her.
“I would like to express my appreciation to Siripon’s sponsor and the center. Without them my daughter could not have experienced the glory of this day. She was able to see and experience the fruits of her hard labor.
“Thank you for providing her with this opportunity.”
Siriporn not only received a gold medal, but she also received the “Female Youth Taekwondo Player of Excellence” award, which was awarded only to outstanding competitors under the age of 17.
Siriporn, with a gold medal hanging on her neck and her right hand clutching an Excellence Award, said,
“I want to tell my sponsor, Margaret who is in the U.S., thank you so much for supporting me. Without you, I don’t know what I would have become.
“Thank you for sponsoring me since I was in grade two up until now. You have been supporting me consistently for 10 years now. You have never left me.
[Siriporn cried during the interview]
“Thank you for everything you have done for me even though I am not your physical daughter. Thank you for sending me letters of encouragement and gifts. I strongly wish and pray that God will richly bless you and your family.”