YOUTH OLYMPICS Finals – Thai for two and two for Thais

Thailand’s Sapsiree Taerattanachai (photo) became the first-ever Youth Olympics badminton gold medallist when she upset China’s Deng Xuan in tonight’s girls’ final. In the boys’ final, inspired by Sapsiree’s golden […]
Thailand’s Sapsiree Taerattanachai (photo) became the first-ever badminton gold medallist when she upset China’s Deng Xuan in tonight’s girls’ final. In the boys’ final, inspired by Sapsiree’s golden achievement, a very confident and charged-up Pisit Poodchalat also won in two straight games against India’s Haseena Sunil Kumar, to end the night and the entire YOG badminton event with an unexpected golden double for Thailand.

By Timothy Chan, Badzine Correspondent, reporting live from Singapore. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Expected to play a three-game thriller, seventh seed Sapsiree altered the script for tonight’s final proceedings and instead surprised sixth seed Deng Xuan (photo) with a straight-game win. The first game was pretty equally contested at 7-7 and 9-9 and Sapsiree put herself in an advantage position at 11-9 at break-time. Deng made numerous errors in her pushes and lobbing, allowing Sapsiree to step-up the score all the way to game point at 20-14. Executing a very deep powerful smash, Sapsiree sealed the first game, 21-14.

Deng was hopeful for a rubber when she managed to race to a 5-1 lead in the second game. On the other side, Sapsiree was making mistakes with her smashes and lifts and Deng continued to lead at 9-7. But by break-time Sapsiree had managed to make a comeback and reverse the score to 11-9 in her advantage. Deng’s defensive blocks of Sapsiree’s smashes were erratic and that just enabled the Thai to lead narrowly 19-17 but close enough to securing a gold-medal championship point. One more defense error by Deng and Sapsiree was just one-match-point away from clinching gold at 20-17. Deng sent the shuttle out and it was all over. The young Thai girl fell on the floor in jubilation for this first moment of Olympic glory.

I’m very proud for my country and to hear the national anthem, especially because its the first (Youth) Olympic Games. Its very important for the future of my career,” she said. Already selected for the Guangzhou 2010 Asian Games, Sapsiree hopes to use the victory as a stepping stone to the London 2012 Olympic Games. “That is my target,” she said.

Deng admitted that nerves had affected her during the match. “I prepared well for the match, but it was the final and I was a little nervous. I was never in the lead and always chasing my opponent,” she added, hinting that a back strain she felt from the previous evening had affected her performance.

No medal for Europe…

Earlier on before the girls’ final, Vu Thi Trang of Vietnam defeated Sarah Milne of Great Britain 21-15, 22-20 to clinch the bronze medal. All six of the YOG badminton medals went to Asian countries and Milne paid tribute to the strength of badminton in Asia. “The speed and the way they read the game makes them superior,” said the Briton. “It’s not just their speed around the court, it’s their thinking ahead and their anticipation.

Hence, as in Beijing where the ‘old continent’ had gone home empty handed, the Singapore Youth Edition gives no better picture of the European landscape, even if players like Flemming Quash, Kasper Lehikonen showed some impressive level. And of course, the missing man Viktor Axelsen, who couldn’t take part in this competition because of his young age.

Pisit makes it two YOGold

In the boys’ singles final, playing in front of the crowd of 4,000 with their thunderous vocal encouragements, fifth seed Pisit Poodchalat was irresistible in his match against Haseena, who was unable to find a way past Pisit’s lightning reflexes and superb positional play. In the first game, Pisit surprising took a big 10-point lead at 16-6. With numerous net errors by Haseena, Pisit put himself in a comfortable position at 20-15. With a back-hand block error by Haseena, Pisit closed the first game at 21-15.

It was a 50-50 scenario in the early stage of the second game, tied at 10-all. Then a net error by Haseena caused him to trail 10-11 at break-time. Still full of energy and confidence and strong fighting spirit, Pisit continued to apply his onslaught on Haseena to maintain his lead at 16-13 increasing to a six-point lead at 20-14. A wrong push by Haseena to the side sending the shuttle out, let Pisit confirm his golden podium finish at 21-16. The young Thai was exctatic, threw his racket in the vociferous crowd and bowed the Thai way – as Boonsak Ponsana had done a while ago when he had clinched the Singapore Open.

Im very, very, very, very happy. Im also happy that my teammate (Sapsiree) also won gold. Ever since I beat the Chinese player (Huang Yuxiang) in the quarter-finals, I was confident I could win because he was the toughest player (in the competition),” said Pisit.

Haseena was philosophical in defeat and positive about his performance in the Games as a whole. “I figured out in the second game that I needed to rally more with him because he was getting tired, but it was a little bit too late for me,” he said. “I learned that I am not a big zero and that I can stand up to the top players.”

Without lifting his racket, South Korea’s Kang Ji Wook collected his bronze medal for boys’ singles after Loh Wei Sheng of Malaysia withdrew before the match due to a sprained ankle.

BOYS’ SINGLES standings

GOLD: Pisit Poodchalat (THA)
SILVER: Haseena Sunil Kumar (IND)
BRONZE: Kang Ji Wook (KOR)

GIRLS’ SINGLES standings

GOLD: Sapsiree Taerattanachai (THA)
SILVER: Deng Xuan (CHN)
BRONZE: Vu Thi Trang (VIE)

To see the LIVE Gallery from BadmintonPhoto at the Youth Olympics, click HERE

If you want to book a room during the event or anytime you are visiting Singapore, feel free to visit the website of our partner hotel the Grand Mercure Roxy Hotel.  A classy and great Hotel only minutes away from the Stadium and a short haul from the city Center. Click HERE

About Timothy Chan