Thailand's Intanon aims to banish London blues in Rio

Thu Mar 10, 2016 7:24am EST
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By Rod Gilmour

BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) - Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon has blazed a trail in women’s badminton ever since she became the youngest ever world champion in 2013 at just 18.

Yet the young Thai has unfinished business later this year at the Rio Olympics, as she bids to put the heartbreak of London 2012 behind her.

Four years ago, Intanon found herself a game and 16-9 up in the quarter-finals against China’s Wang Xin. But tears were to follow as she failed to convert her advantage into a medal tilt.

“It was my worst experience as a player,” she told Reuters at the All-England championships. “When I was interviewed by reporters, I couldn’t stop crying.”

Defeat, she says, spurred her on to greater heights a year later when she broke China’s eight-year stranglehold to lift the world title.

Intanon’s rise is the more remarkable given her early dislike for the sport.

As a child her parents moved to the suburbs of Bangkok where they worked at a factory making Thai desserts. With her family keen for Intanon to avoid burns or injuries, the owner let the factory children play on the badminton court she had built.

“In the first place, I really didn’t like it,” said Intanon. “My parents said that I should give it a try. But after a few years I started to love the game and I realized that I could make a living.”   Continued...

Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon returns a shot to Indonesia's Lindaweni Fanetri during their women's singles badminton match at the BWF World Championship in Jakarta, Indonesia, August 13, 2015. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside