ASIAN GAMES 2010 Women’s Team Final – 9th time lucky for China

China scooped a ninth title in the women’s team event of the Asian Games in Guangzhou, but Thailand didn’t go down without a fight. With solid performances from their three […]

Li Yongbo with singles stars past and present: Zhang Ning, Wang Xin

China scooped a ninth title in the women’s team event of the in Guangzhou, but Thailand didn’t go down without a fight. With solid performances from their three young shuttlers, the future looks bright for Thailand…for China too.

Raphael Sachetat, live from Guangzhou. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Of course, China won. Of course, this 9th title was logically expected.  But the real lesson learned from this final tie – as the overall women’s team event in these Asian Games – is that there is a new badminton powerhouse emerging and that is Thailand. Fielding 3 players under 20 years of age to face the mighty Chinese in the final of such an important event is  proof that Thailand is banking on the future. And they are right to do so, because these three shuttlers have what it takes to become future stars.

When the line-up was handed out, there must have been a feeling of surprise for the Chinese. They probably had prepared their girls to confront Salakjit Ponsana and her friend Porntip, herself only 19. But no. Instead, the teenagers Ratchanok Intanon, Nitchaon Jindapol and Sapsiree Taerattanachai (pictured) were up against the expected Chinese players.

And things didn’t start well for Li Yongbo’s girls, with Wang Xin (pictured above) losing the first game. Oddly enough, it was she who was feeling the pressure, even with her 10 years more experience than her 15-year-old opponent, while Ratchanok was all smiles, even when she was losing a long rally. The Thai girl showed glimpses of her talent – an amazing touch, a never-give-up spirit, and some shots impossible to read for Wang Xin, who often shook her head in disbelief when the shuttles had already touched the ground.

The first game was won 21-19 by Intanon, in a silent hall, but Wang Xin was to bank on her attacks to take control of the second and third game. Zhang Ning, her coach, had meticulously taken note throughout the first game and made sure the right tactics would apply from then on. In spite of some great shots from the Thai, Wang came on top 21-17, 21-14, showing signs of great relief when the final shuttle hit the ground.

Wang Shixian didn’t make her team-mates worry as much as she clearly stay on top of the whole match, from start to finish, taking it home 21-13, 21-12 against Nitchaon Jindapol.

Youth Olympic Games gold medallist Sapsiree played very well in the third match of the afternoon, but Jiang Yanjiao was a bit quicker and more accurate. The former Chinese National Champion scooped China’s third point by a 21-15, 21-10 victory.

“This is a new generation of players and it is a big achievement for them. Plus, a great experience towards the London Olympics, even if it is too early to say who will qualify. There is still a long way,” said Li Yongbo.

For Coach Udom  Lueangpatcharaporn from Thailand, it was just a bonus to be able to compete in the final: “When we saw the draw, we had hoped to be able to be in the semi-final. That was our highest target, so, be silver medallists is wonderful for us.”

Final results:  China beat Thailand: 3-0

WS1: Wang Xin (CHN) beat Ratchanok Intanon (THA): 19-21, 21-17, 21-14
WS2:  Wang Shixian (CHN) beat Nitchaon Jindapol (THA): 21-13, 21-12
WS3: Jiang Yanjiao (CHN) vs.  Sapsiree Taerattanachai (THA): 21-15, 21-12

Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.