Thailand crowned new Badminton Asia Junior Mixed Team champions
Thailand chartered a new history in Badminton Asia's Junior Championships by winning the Mixed Team title - a first for the country - after defeating top seeds Indonesia 3-2 in a thrilling come-from-behind final at the Suzhou Olympic Sports Centre in Suzhou, China on Tuesday.
The champions were certainly in paradise in Suzhou - a city that has the reputation of being dubbed "Paradise on Earth" for its long history and glorious traditional cultures. And Thailand certainly added a new chapter to the history.
It was a mission accomplished for the Thais were seeded only third in Suzhou but went from strength to strength - defeating eight-time winners and defending champions China 3-1 in the semi-finals hours after knocking out last year's runners-up Japan 3-2 in the quarter-finals on Monday.
"This is the first time we even reached the final...and to be crowned champions is something we will cherish in Suzhou," said a delighted Thailand coach Udom Luangphetcharaporn after the win.
"Not many gave us hope of even playing in the final. However, we showed tremendous fighting spirit even when the chips were down. Not many gave us hope against China but we showed a fantastic form to beat them.
"It was no different in the final against Indonesia after we lost the first two ties (men's doubles and women's singles) but we kept faith and Kunlavut (Vitidsarn) turned the tide in our favor by winning his men's singles. The rest is history."
Kunlavut, a two-time world junior champion (2017 and 2018) defeated Bobby Setiabudi 21-16, 15-21, 21-18 to reduce the deficit after Indonesia led 2-0.
Indonesia grabbed the first point through Leo Rolly Carnando-Daniel Marthin with straight games 21-11, 21-14 win over Thanawin Madee-Ratchapol Makkasasithorn before Putri Kusuma Wardani took the women's singles against Phittayaporn Chaiwan 18-21, 21-12, 21-11.
The Thais were back in the picture and the fightback was on when Benyapa Aimsaard-Peeraya Khantaruangsakul came through an hour-long battle against Nita Vilolina Marwah-Putri Syaikah for a 21-16, 16-21, 21-8 win in the women's doubles.
It was left to Kunlavut-Phittayaporn in the mixed doubles and the Thai pair rose to the occasion. The desire to win was there and they clinched the winning point with a 21-16, 21-16 win over Leo Rolly Carnando-Indah Cahya Sari Jamil in 40 minutes.
The Indonesians were left crestfallen while Thailand celebrated a victory with hugs and pats as Kunlavut and Phittayaporn were buried under a heap of bodies by their teammates and officials.
"We succumbed to pressure. Our women's doubles did not play their normal game. That destroyed us and in the decider, our mixed doubles crumbled against the confident Thais," said a disappointed Indonesia coach Rudy Gunawan.
Losing semi-finalists China and Korea settled for the bronze medal.
MIXED TEAM FINAL
THAILAND 3 INDONESIA 2
Thanawin Madee-Ratchapol Makkasasithorn lost to Leo Rolly Carnando-Daniel Marthin 11-21. 14-21
Phittayaporn Chaiwan lost to Putri Kusuma Wardani 21-18, 12-21, 11-21
Kunlavut Vitidsarn beat Bobby Setiabudi 21-16, 15-21, 21-18
Benyapa Aimsaard-Peeraya Khantaruangsakul beat Nita Violina Marwah-Putri Syaikah 21-16, 16-21, 21-8
Phittayaporn Chaiwan-Kunlavut Vitidsarn beat Leo Rolly Carnando-Indah Cahya Sari Jamil 21-12, 21-16