As Malaysian badminton standard continues to decline, our northern neighbours Thailand have gone from strength to strength.
Yesterday, the Thais came from behind to stun top seeds Indonesia 3-2 to clinch their first-ever mixed team gold in the Asian Junior Championships in Suzhou, China, yesterday.
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Kunlavut Vitidsarn and Phittayaporn Chaiwan, the world No. 1 boys’ and girls’ singles, proved that they are just as good in the doubles when they teamed up to defeat Leo Rolly Carnando-Indah Cahya Sari Jamil 21-12, 21-16 in the mixed doubles for Thailand’s winning point.
It was certainly a stunning victory considering Leo and Indah are the current world No. 1 as well as the reigning world junior champions.
Thanawin Madee-Ratchapol Makkasasithorn were no match for world No. 1 Leo and Daniel Marthin, losing tamely 11-21, 14-21 while Phittayaporn went down to Putri Kusuma Wardani 21-18, 12-21, 11-21.
Kunlavut then started the spirited comeback by downing Bobby Setiabudi 21-16, 15-21, 21-18 before world No. 29 Benyapa Aimsaard-Peeraya Khantaruangsakul pulled off an unlikely victory over world No. 2 Nita Violina Marwah-Putri Syaikah.
They won 21-16, 16-21, 21-8 to drag Indonesia into the decider, leaving Kunlavut-Phittayaporn to seal the deal for them in their very first mixed team final appearance.
The victory also proved Thailand’s semi-final upset over eight-time winners China was not a fluke.
Indonesia, on the other hand, were left kicking themselves for failing to live up to their favourites tag and despite having the strongest squad in recent years.
The mixed team gold continued to elude them since the event’s inception in 2006. The only other time they reached the final was in 2017 where they lost to South Korea.
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Two-time champions Malaysia were eliminated in the group stage last Sunday.
Semi-finals: Indonesia bt South Korea (Leo Rolly Carnando-Indah Cahya Sari Jamil bt Ki Dong-ju-Lee Eun-ji 23-21, 21-15; Christian Adinata lost to Park Hyeon-seung 18-21, 21-17, 20-22; Putri Kusuma Wardani bt Kim Ga-lam 21-14, 21-14; Nita Violina Marwah-Putri Syaikah bt Ji Young-bin-Lee Eun-ji 21-18, 21-16); Thailand bt China 3-1 (Kunlavut Vitidsarn bt Li Yunze 21-15, 21-16; Phittayaporn Chaiwan bt Zhou Meng 17-21, 21-16, 21-17; Tanadon Punpanich-Sirawit Sothon (Tha) lost to Di Zijian-Wang Chang 10-21, 14-21; Benyapa Aimsaard-Peeraya Khantaruangsakul bt Luo Xumin-Zhou Xinru 21-19, 21-11).
Final: Thailand bt Indonesia 3-2 (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 bt Bobby Setiabudi 21-16, 15-21, 21-18; Benyapa Aimsaard-Peeraya Khantaruangsakul bt Nita Violina Marwah-Putri Syaikah 21-16, 16-21, 21-8; Phittayaporn Chaiwan-Kunlavut Vitidsarn bt Leo Rolly Carnando-Indah Cahya Sari Jamil 21-12, 21-16).