Thailand by Amelia Gregory
Amelia Gregory, in Year 8, recently became a Thai boxing world champion. Here is her story:
Going to Bangkok was a great opportunity for me. Thai boxing is a lifestyle – and so I was not only going to fight, but to learn about the culture side of the sport. Getting off the plane and outside was when I realised that all of it was real. It was really hot and busy. After my 20 hour trip I was exhausted and I fell straight asleep. The next week was watching fights and cheering my Great Britain team on. For that entire week I got up at 6am to weigh in and then eat. Then I had my fight, against someone from Uzbekistan. I had two two-minute rounds and they judged it a draw. I then had a third round. I couldn’t hear anyone around me, and my only focus was on winning. This is what all my training and hard work was for, and it paid off. When the referee held my hand up I was so happy – the happiest I’ve ever been. A few days after, I received my medal.
From the day of my fight, it has been such a relief. Then the pro-ams started. I stayed to watch their fights. These were held in the MBK Centre, as were everyone else’s fights. The whole feel of Bangkok had me mesmerised, I was so happy to be there. The street food was great, there was fighting everyday – I was in my element. Though Bangkok was busy, it is also very humbling. There is so much poverty, it really makes you stop and realise how lucky you are.
After the fights had finished, everyone (all 57 countries!) travelled to Ayutthaya, the old capital of Thailand. This was such a special day for me. We all sat down, it was hotter than in the city, and proceeded to receive our monkons, a traditional headband that shows your khan (grade). These were presented by the governors of Ayuttiha. Then we went forward to be blessed by the grandmasters. Thai boxing is a lot about respect, so we bow before receiving a blessing. Then everyone lined up to do Waikru, a traditional Thai “dance.” Waikru is also performed before a fight. The atmosphere was amazing, with so many people, and the Thai music playing. Then we all went to a dinner (outside) where we watched an elephant show. This was by far the most emotional day for me. Then we had a few days to ourselves to explore Thailand. I went to a coconut farm, rode an elephant and went to Baiyoke Shy – an 84 floor restaurant! We also visited the Grand Palace, the Reclining Buddha and the Golden Buddha. I was blessed by a monk, who presented me with a blessed “bracelet’ for well-being and health. We had a guide on these tours, who told us so much about the history of the temples and Thailand.
It was an honour and privilege to represent Great Britain and win a gold medal, and also have all those amazing experiences.