Four years after spearheading Thailand to their historic volleyball medal, Pleumjit Thinkaow has been given the honour of leading out her country at the 18th Asian Games on Saturday.
Pleumjit was a member of the women’s volleyball team that landed their first Asiad medal — a bronze — in 48 years at Incheon 2014.
On Saturday night she will become the first Thai female athlete in 20 years to carry the national flag at the opening ceremony at Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.
The last time the Kingdom had a female flag bearer, it was sprinter Raewadee Sritao in 1998 when the quadrennial tournament was held in Bangkok.
“I’m very proud to be chosen as the flag bearer in my last Asian Games,” said the 34-year-old captain of the women’s volleyball team, who will be competing in her fifth Asian Games.
“For me, being a female athlete, I never thought I would receive such a great honour. I’m so so proud,” she added.
The captain also said she hoped to lead the team to another medal in her final Asian Games.
“The goal of our team is to win a medal in Jakarta. We know we will have a tough competition but we will do our best to bring medal home.”
Thana Chaiprasit, chief of the Thai delegation, said Pleumjit was the perfect choice for the role.
“Pleumjit is one of the most decorated Thai athletes. She has won so many accolades over the course of her career,” said Thana. “And the fact that this will be her last Asian Games, so for me, she is the perfect choice for such an honour.
“The volleyball schedule also allowed us to choose her. The team will play their first game [against the Philippines] on Sunday afternoon and after talking with coach Danai Sriwacharamaytakul and Pleumjit herself, we all agreed that she is the best choice.”
At Incheon 2014, goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan was the flag bearer while HRH Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, who was a member of the horse racing team, also led the Thai delegation into the stadium. At Guangzhou 2010, tennis star Danai Udomchoke received the honour.