Mook, 17, never imagined she could have a different life, away from ricefields and farming. Having lost her mother at the age of 9, she moved to Surin, one of the poorest provinces in Thailand, to live with her father’s family. She was then obliged to work in the fields, clean the house and look after her younger cousins. At 12, a friend of the family saw her strong body and suggested her to earn her life with weightlifting. She got a scholarship for the National Youth Team in Bangkok and started a new life. Now she gets a small salary and has a safe place to stay while she pursues her studies in high school.
Many children and youth from poor families in Thailand are sent to this kind of programmes to get a chance to study and earn some money. Most of them choose the traditional boxing, Muay Thai, but weightlifting is becoming more popular as some Thai female athletes have recently won some Olympic medals.