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World-conquering Ariya named top Thai athlete of 2018

Jul 20. 2019
Ariya Jutanugarn
Ariya Jutanugarn
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By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
The Nation

As expected, golf star Ariya Jutanugarn was recognised as 2018’s Best Athlete by the Sports Writers Association of Thailand on Saturday, in an awards ceremony at Anoma Grand Bangkok Hotel.

The 23-year-old outshone all competition last year to become the first player to win every major award in an LPGA Tour season: Player of the Year, 2018 No 1, Race to CME Globe, Annika Major Award, LPGA Vare Trophy, Top 10 Leaders and No 1 on the Money List.

Ariya couldn’t be there in person to receive the honour as she was still playing in the Dow Great Lake Invitational tournament in the US.

In the amateur athlete awards, cyclist Jai Angsuthasawit was named best male, while taekwondo exponent Panipak Wongwattanakit topped the female athletes.

Thai-Australian Jai rose to fame when he beat the odds to win the men’s cycling keirin for a long-awaited gold medal for Thailand in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. 

Panipak, meanwhile, swept gold medals in the 49k category at several international tournaments, including the 2018 Asian Games, 2019 World Championships and the recently concluded World University Games in Italy. The 21-year-old from Surat Thani also won this award last year.

Award winners:

Best professional athlete: Arya Jutanugarn (golf)

Best amateur male athlete: Jai Angsuthasawit (cycling)

Best amateur female athlete: Panipak Wongwattanakit (taekwondo)

Best junior female athlete: Atthaya Thitikul (golf)

Best junior male athlete: Kunlavut Vitidsarn (badminton)

Best coach: Choi Young Seok (taekwondo)

Best male para athlete: Warawut Saengampa (boccia)

Best female para athlete: Kwansuda Puangkijja (taekwondo)

Best Sports Association: Taekwondo Association of Thailand

Best Sports Team: 2018 Asian Games women’s volleyball team

Honourary Award: Vichai Srivaddhanaprapha (former chairman of Leicester City Football Club)

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