YOUTH OLYMPICS QF – Thai “twins” triumph

Both Pisit Poodchalat and Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand advanced to the boys’ singles and girls’ singles semi-finals respectively, after their triumphant victories over Huang Yixiang of China and Sonia Cheah […]

Both Pisit Poodchalat and Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand advanced to the boys’ singles and girls’ singles semi-finals respectively, after their triumphant victories over Huang Yixiang of China and Sonia Cheah of Malaysia, making up for the absence of their compatriot, World Champion Intanon Ratchanok, who was too young to qualify.

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

Pisit was in excellent form today and gave a good account of himself as he surprisingly defeated Huang Yixiang of China in 2 straight games 21-16, 21-19. In the first game at 15-13, with a narrow two-point lead, he put the pressure on Huang to stretch the score to a four point lead at 18-14 and then wrapped up the game at 21-16. It was tougher for Pisit in the second game as Huang, with his never-give-up attitude, was working really hard to level up, coming very close several times before finally matching the Thai wonder at 19-19.

Huang (photo) must have thought that the most difficult part was over to force a rubber on Pisit but it was not to be when he smashed into the net to let Pisit lead again 20-19. Then an unforced error sent Pisit straight to the semi-finals. Huang just stretched out both his hands as if he was saying “I surrender” and bid goodbye to YOG.

I am very glad to have beaten Huang today and my going to the semi-final will make many Thai people happy,” Pisit said during his post-match interview. As for his preparation for the semi-final match against Loh Wei Sheng of Malaysia, he said that he will try to be more relaxed and build up his confidence.

His compatriot Sapsiree (pictured top) also won 2 straight games against 17-year-old Sonia Cheah of Malaysia 21-15, 21-16. It was an even contest in the first part of the first game but Sapsiree managed to chalk more points to win it 21-15. The second game was also deadlocked at 8-8 and 9-9 but Sonia started to lose points easily to let Sapsiree to move ahead with a five-point lead towards the end. After trailing 15-18, Sonia managed to take only one point from her and Sapsiree wrapped up the match at 21-16.

It was the biggest game of my career,” she said after the victory. She also revealed that her hands were shaking during the match. “Even now my hands are still shaking,” she added.

Though now she expects to take the gold medal, she will still try to take one match at a time. She has never played against Vu Thi Trang (photo) of Vietnam, her semi-final opponent. “I will concentrate during the game,” she said of her success strategy for today. When asked about how she felt when she learned that she would replace Rachatnok Intanon, the current World Junior Champion who cannot play in YOG because she is too young, she said she would do something for Thailand – try her best to win. She has also been selected to be in the team bound for Asian Games in Guangzhou in November.

Sonia Cheah, for her part, was not satisfied with her performance tonight. “She [Sapsiree] did not kill me but I made too many mistakes.” Giant-killer Vu Thi Trang, who had already surprisingly beaten second seed Japanese Fukuman Naoko and Choe Hye In of South Korea in the earlier pool matches, beat Lene Clausen of Denmark 21-19, 21-13.

China still hoping

After the defeat of Huang Yixiang – who was no less than the flag holder for the overall Chinese delegation during the Opening Ceremony, Deng Xuan (photo) now remains the only hope for China to win a YOG badminton medal. It was sweet revenge for Deng to beat Carolina Marin of Spain today 21-12, 21-19 because in this year WJC, Carolina had beaten her in three games.

My opponent today was patient and steady, but I was well prepared for the match against her,” Deng said. Her semi-final opponent will be Great Britain’s Sarah Milne, whom she has not played before.

The short and stocky Sarah had no problem dealing with the much taller Josephine Wentholt of the Netherlands with her usual powerful and aggressive play. Sarah won in straight games 21-15, 21-8.

It was amazing winning today. I was quite nervous in the start but I just played my basic game and started to become more confident,” Sarah said. She further added that Wentholt is her friend and she kept feeling bad winning during her game but managed to keep her mind focused on the game.

Most thrilling match of the night is at the boys’ singles

It took 51 long minutes for Haseena Sunil Kumar of India to overcome Hsieh Feng Tse of Chinese Taipei in their three games thriller encounter. After losing 13-21 in the first game Hsieh managed to make a strong comeback to take the second game at 21-18. In the rubber game, the huge thunderous crowd were kept on their toes as both players kept leveling at 5-5, 7-7. At 18-18, Hsieh seemed in control and took a narrow lead at 19-18. But Sunil fought back to level at 20-20 to force a deuce. The Indian then led 21-20 thanks to a deep power smash.

Seeing Sunil near the net , Hsieh gave a good fast push to the back to level again at 21-21. The match then got more exciting at 22-22. But Gopichand’s protégé managed to take the next two points to wrap up at 24-22.

This is the best crowd I have ever played in front of,” said Sunil. “But when they started roaring (in support of Hsieh), I felt that I ought to win it. It was a matter of pride.” The Indian will meet top seed Kang Ji Wook of South Korea in the semi-final and is confident of victory. “Im very confident that I can beat anybody. Theres not much gap between any of us.

The soft-spoken and smiley Kang defeated Sukamta Evert of Indonesia in three games 21-11, 14-21 and 21-13. Kang had beaten Sunil in the semi-final of the WJC this year and he is confident of beating him again to repeat fate.

Host city Singapore’s quest for a medal came to a stop tonight when Loh Wei Sheng of Malaysia dashed Huang Chao’s hopes. Loh won in straight games 21-18, 21-16 in just 34 minutes. In the second game, Huang supported by the big home crowd of supporters and 2 top government officials, was spurred on to take the lead at 14-12. But according to Loh, he told himself not to panic when trailing 12-14. Loh only allowed Huang to take a narrow one point or two point lead and later managed to turn the odds around to lead 20-16, before nailing it 21-16.

My Olympics are over,” said Huang, “but I will work hard so that I can play again on the Olympic stage.”

This is the first time I was playing in front of such a big crowd. I was quite nervous especially since I was meeting a local player,” Loh said. The Malaysian boy is ready to do his best and give his opponent Pisit a run for his money in the semi-final. The confident Loh had beaten Pisit in the AJC this year and progressed to become the runner-up to Huang.

Wednesday’s Semi-finals

Kang Ji Wook (KOR) vs Haseena Sunil Kumar (IND)
Pisit Poodchalat (THA) vs Loh Wei Sheng (MAL)

Sarah Milne (GBR) vs Deng Xuan (CHN)
Sapsiree Taerattanachai (THA) vs Vu Thi Trang (VIE)

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About Timothy Chan