Thai teenager Ratchanok Intanon took the world women’s badminton title in Guangzhou yesterday in a massive upset, beating Chinese Olympic champion Li Xuerui 22-20, 18-21, 21-14.
Ratchanok, 18, becomes the first Thai player ever to win gold at the world championships after defeating 22-year-old top seed Li, who was gunning for her first world title.
The three-game thriller was a battle of brilliant technical skills and stamina, with Ratchanok pushing a more experienced Li around the court with a huge repertoire of shots.
Ratchanok came back from 19-12 down in the first game to clinch it by two points, with a grim-faced Li fighting back to take the second.
But the supremely relaxed Thai looked physically and mentally stronger in the final game, holding on to a lead even though Li threw everything at her.
At the end of the match Ratchanok dropped to her knees in tears on court before bowing to an applauding stadium.
In the women’s doubles final played beforehand, top seeded Chinese pair Xiaoli Wang and Yang Yu beat eighth seeded South Koreans Hye Won Eom and Ye Na Jang 21-14, 18-21, 21-8 to make up for their disappointment at the 2012 London Olympics, where they were disqualified for trying to lose their group stage match.
Yesterday’s other doubles finals saw Indonesia strike surprise golds in both men’s and mixed events.
Sixth seeded Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan made quick work of Danish duo Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen 21-13, 23-21 in the men’s doubles, after compatriots Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir, seeded third, had clinched the mixed title with a 21-13, 16-21, 22-20 victory over top seeded Ma Jin and Xu Chen of China.
AFP & DAN RILEY