Thai Para: Double Bronze for Thailand

Thai Para: Double Bronze for Thailand
Bronze bonus for Somsiri (right) and Watcharaphon

The conclusion of the Standing Upper (SU5) and Short Stature (SH6) men’s doubles on Day 3 of the Thailand Para Badminton International 2022 gave the host nation two bronze medals.

Pricha Somsiri and Watcharphon Chok-uthaikul secured the first in SU5 before Natthapong Meechai and Bunthan Yaemmali in SH6.

“It’s a surprise for us because we knew it would be a tough field,” said Somsiri after defeating France’s Lucas Mazur/Meril Loquette 22-20 18-21 23-21.

France however, chalked up more points in the round-robin stage to secure silver with Malaysians Cheah Liek Hou/Mohamad Fariz Ahmad Asri taking gold.

SH6 gold went to Hong Kong China’s Man Kai Chu/Chun Yim Wong, leaving silver for Frenchmen Fabien Morat/Charles Noakes.

Noakes takes it up a notch.

Noakes got his revenge when he eliminated Wong 22-20 22-20 to book his men’s singles semifinal against Brazil’s Vitor Gonçalves Tavares.

“This is a big win. I’ve lost twice to him, first in straight games and then in three, so now I guess you could say I’m progressing step by step,” said Noakes, who started playing badminton in late 2019.

“I had to take deep breaths between points to relieve my stress. I could hear my team and some other players calling out my name and that helped.”

France’s training camp in Japan was a bonus, allowing him to acclimatise to the heat and humidity in Asia, and the time zone, prior to coming to Pattaya.

Yu plays it cool.

Korea Roll Out the Next Gen

Sooyoung Yu, at 19 Korea’s youngest men’s wheelchair athlete, defeated Matsumoto Takumi in WH2 singles quarterfinal 21-12 21-16.

“I’ve seen his weaknesses and I can use that against him tomorrow,” said Yu, who with Jeong Jae Gun will take on Takumi and Hiroshi Murayama in the WH1-2 men’s doubles semifinal.

“He hits then moves back to the centre quickly but it’s too fast. Fast is good but you must also be able to anticipate your opponent’s next move. I’m not that good yet so I always follow my coach’s instructions.”

Another familiar opponent is compatriot Kim Jungjun. Yu is anticipating long rallies in his singles semifinal against the veteran Tokyo 2020 silver medallist.

“It could go either way but the end result will depend on court conditions. Having played many more tournaments, Kim will get comfortable quicker.”

Mazur (right) aims to stand by Loquette.

Scaling it Down

“It may be time to think about playing singles and only one doubles,” said Mazur after he and Loquette fell to Somsiri and Watcharaphon in SU5 men’s doubles.

Mazur doesn’t believe he’s in optimum physical shape, and knows this will have an impact on his performance.

“I don’t usually like to share my space and although I have a good on-court partnership with Faustine (Noel), if I had to choose, I would go with men’s doubles,” he said.

“Meril and I are similar on and off court. We share the same fighting spirit and I need to be fit to support my partner.”