Thai Para: Golden Girls Srinavakul and Saensupa

Thai Para: Golden Girls Srinavakul and Saensupa
Chanida Srinavakul (left) and Nipada Saensupa.

Thailand’s Chanida Srinavakul and Saensupa Nipada won the only gold medal for their country at Thailand Para Badminton International 2022.

They defeated India’s Manasi Girishchandra Joshi/Shanthiya Viswanathan 22-20 21-19 in the Standing Lower (SL3)–Standing Upper (SU5) women’s doubles final in front of a raucous audience.

“We’re proud to win for our country, in our country. The noise was encouraging but we had to block it out to focus,” said Srinavakul.

Joshi, the only shuttler to make all three finals of her events, settled for another silver in SL3 women’s singles after losing to compatriot Mandeep Kaur 22-20 19-21 14-21.

“I was nervous in the first because in my mind I always think about how good she is. When I won the second, I got confident and told myself I can now do this,” said Kaur.

Kaur overcame nerves to seal her victory.

India earned two more gold from their women’s singles in SU5 through Manisha Ramdass and SH6 through Nithya Sre Sumathy Sivan.

“I aggravated an old injury and it slowed me down. My leg was shaky, I couldn’t control the game but I just didn’t want to let her win,” said Ramdass after her 20-22 21-12 21-19 victory over Kaede Kameyama (Japan).

Sivan, who took out England’s Rachel Choong 21-9 24-22, said: “I’ve beaten her twice but each side of the court felt different so it took me time to adjust. She’s getting better but so am I, so I can keep winning.”

Choong got her gold in SH6 mixed doubles when she and Jack Shephard overcame Thailand’s Natthapong Meechai/Chai Saeyang 21-23 21-11 21-15.

Shephard and Choong celebrate their success.

“We struggled to get settled and made needless errors. They were a lot more organised than when we played them in Bahrain. The close match and having to fight for each point pushed us. I enjoy that aspect, it’s how we learn,” said Choong.

Shephard agreed: “It’s good to be pushed to three games. Once we found our rhythm, it turned in our favour and we were able to dictate the match.”

England’s other gold came from Daniel Bethell in SL3 men’s singles. He defeated Paralympic champion Pramod Bhagat (India) 21-13 21-19.

“I did everything right. The top 12 are here and winning without dropping a game is just amazing. We’re both developing as players but that just means every match will be a good challenge,” said Bethell.

Pramod came back fighting in the SL3-SL4 men’s doubles with Sukant Kadam to defeat Dwiyoko/Fredy Setiawan (Indonesia) 21-18 21-13 for the gold.

Bhagat and Kadam (left) in action.

“We are a new partnership. I hope this medal strengthens us,” said Bhagat.

On his loss to Bethell, Bhagat said: “I know I’ve fallen behind. It’s a huge lesson for me. I need to come back to the way I used to play and develop to meet his level.”

Kadam managed another silver after losing the SL4 men’s singles final 21-2 21-17 to France’s Lucas Mazur.

Mazur later partnered Faustine Noel for a 17-21 21-15 21-7 win in the SL3-SU5 mixed doubles final against India’s Ruthick Ragupathi and Joshi.

SL3-SU5 mixed doubles champions Mazur and Noel.

“We kept telling ourselves to play our game, not theirs. Once we did that, we were OK,” said Noel. “Lucas always gives 100 per cent no matter how many matches he’s had on the day. I know it’s hard on anyone who plays three events, especially since it’s so competitive now.”

Noel earned a silver in SL4 women’s singles when she lost to Japan’s Fujino Haruka 15-21 21-18 17-21.

“I may have to focus on singles. I need more exposure to learn how to move around the court and free my mind. Don’t know why I tend to get very nervous.”

Cheah stays unbeaten.

The current undisputed master of SU5 men’s singles, Cheah Liek Hou of Malaysia, took some time to overcome Fang Jen-yu (Chinese Taipei) 22-20 21-15 for his gold.

“I’m exhausted with back-to-back events this year. Maybe it’s age but my body is taking some time to recover and I’m not moving as quickly as I usually do. It’s hard keeping up with these younger players but my experience allows me to control the game and stay on top.”

The victorious Chu.

Another specialist in his class, Chu Man Kai (Hong Kong China) praised his opponent Charles Noakes (France) after winning the SH6 men’s singles final 23-21 21-15.

“It won’t be long before he’s a top player,” he said.