Dream come true for Kunlavut as he becomes the first Thai to win World Junior boys' singles title
When Thailand's Kunlavut Vitidsarn retained his Asian Junior Under-17 title at the Thuwunna National Indoor Stadium in Yangon two weeks ago he had made known his dream to be a world champion.
And on Sunday the 16-year-old Kunlavut fulfilled his dream at the Among Rogo Arena in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in style - when he was crowned the new world junior champion after a come-from-behind 17-21, 21-15, 21-9 win over Malaysia's Leong Jun Hao.
The 18-year-old Jun Hao is the reigning Asian Junior (Under-19) champion. What made Kunlavut's victory all the more sweet is that he had lost to the Malaysian not once but twice in the Asian Under-19 meet in Bintaro, Jakarta in July.
Kunlavut is a product of Banthongyord Badminton School - the school that has been producing badminton champions, including Pattarasuda Chaiwan, who also retained her Asian Junior Under-17 title in Yangon.
One of Thailand's famous badminton coaches Udom Luangphetcharaporn is the head coach at Banthongyord Badminton School.
After the Asian Junior Under-17 championships in Yangon, Udom had predicted that "Thailand is good to win a medal in the world meet" and Kunlavut did not let him down. Pattarasuda, who also the top seed in the world meet, however, was beaten in the quarter-finals by China's Cai Yanyan.
There was also delight for hosts Indonesia as Gregoria Mariska nailed the girls' singles title on a day Indonesia also won the gold and the silver medal in the mixed doubles but there were no titles for China - who retained the mixed team title yet again.
Mariska was involved in a three-game battle with China's Han Yue - the Asian Junior Under-19 champion, before prevailing 21-13, 13-21, 24-22 in 64 minutes.
In the mixed doubles 11th seeds Rinov Rivaldy-Pitha Haningtyas Mentari upset compatriots and third seeds Rehan Naufal Kusharjanto-Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti 21-23, 21-15, 21-18.
Japan's fourth seeds Mahiro Kaneko-Yunosuke Kubota came out tops against China's Di Zijan-Wang Chang 21-14, 15-21, 21-13 to win the boys' doubles title while the women's doubles final saw second seeds Baek Ha-na-Lee Yu-rim coming back from a game down to beat Indonesia's fourth seeds Jauza Fadhila Sugiarto-Ribka Sugiarto 18-21, 21-11, 21-3.
RESULTS (ALL FINALS)
Kunlavut Vitidsarn (THA) beat Leong Jun Hao (MAS) 17-21, 21-15, 21-9
Mahiro Kaneko-Yunosuke Kubota (JPN) beat Di Zijan-Wang Chang (CHN) 21-14, 15-21, 21-13
Gregoria Mariska (INA) beat Han Yue (CHA) 21-13, 13-21, 24-22
Baek Ha-na-Lee Yu-rim (KOR) beat Jauza Fadhila Sugiarto-Ribka Sugiarto (INA) 18-21, 21-11, 21-3
Rinav Rivaldy-Pitha Haningtyas Mentari (INA) beat Rehan Naufal Kusharjanto-Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti (INA) 21-23, 21-15, 21-18