The on-court aggression was replaced by a beaming smile as Ratchanok Inthanon,hours after conquering the badminton world,lined up to receive Thailand’s ‘devoted children’ award on Monday.
On Sunday,the 18-year-old upset Olympic champion Li Xuerui in the women’s singles final to become the youngest winner of the prestigious event which China had dominated for a decade.
On Monday,the Thai teen,wearing dental braces and decked out in a blazer and check shirt,was among the 96 ‘devoted children’ to receive the award at Thailand’s National Mother’s Day ceremony.
Beaten by Li in their previous four encounters,Ratchanok had predicted the victory,which she dedicated to her mother and the Queen,in Guangzhou would make her more confident against the top shuttlers.
“Being the champion has been my dream,” Ratchanok was quoted as saying in the Thai media after beating Li 22-20 18-21 21-14 to become the first Thai to win the world championship.
“At the end of the match all the tough moments from all the years came into my mind and I thought,’Finally,I’ve got it.'”
There was no such joy for Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei who had to retire with injury at match point down in the third set as his Chinese nemesis Lin Dan returned from a year off to claim his fifth world championship title.
Lee’s coach Tey Seu Bock said the organisers’ decision to switch off the air-conditioning at the venue made things difficult for Malaysian shuttler.
“We are not offering any excuses for the loss but lack of air-conditioning will endanger the players… because a drop in oxygen level can be dangerous because it can cause breathing difficulties,” he was quoted as saying by the Bernama news agency.
“In the third set Chong Wei had indicated to me that he was coming down with cramps but when he saw Lin Dan was also having difficulties,he decided to continue,” he added.
Lin,who has denied Lee Olympic gold both in the Beijing and London Games,was magnanimous in victory.
“I want to thank my great opponent,without whom I will never know where my potential is. Thank you,Lee,” he was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.
“Many people don’t predict such an ending,but I think both of us have tried our best. We are both 30 year-old. One year after the London Olympics,we can still meet in the final. We have proved our value. There are no losers between us. We truly love badminton,” Lin added.