Gold would be sweet for factory girl Ratchanok

Tue Jun 7, 2016 6:58am EDT
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By Ian Ransom

SYDNEY (Reuters) - As the humble daughter of factory workers at a Bangkok sweet-maker, badminton was a ticket out of poverty for Ratchanok Intanon, who hopes winning gold at the Rio Olympics might inspire more Thai girls to chase their dreams.

The 21-year-old will be among Thailand's main medal hopes in Brazil and one of the chief threats to China's chances of defending their astonishing sweep of all five badminton titles at the London Games.

Ratchanok is spurred by a painful memory of London, where, as a teenage sensation set to rock the Chinese establishment, she choked in a quarter-final when poised to defeat the tournament second seed, Wang Xin.

"Actually I think I had a chance to win or (be) close to the medals," Ratchanok told Reuters ruefully in an interview in Sydney on Tuesday.

"But I think I lost with the experience, because that time I was still young and she was also good, world class.

"So maybe... mentally she was better than me.

"That time, I didn't feel good after losing. I felt like I didn't want to train again. I felt I didn't want to play badminton again.

"But I had support. My family, who love me, just said that it's okay, you still have time. Just learn more."   Continued...

Thailand's badminton player Ratchanok Intanon plays during a practice round at the Australian Badminton Open in Sydney, Australia, June 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed