Thailand secured two wheelchair gold medals at the Thailand Para-Badminton International 2019 as Amnouy Wetwithan retained her women’s doubles WH1-2 title and won the women’s singles Wheelchair 2 (WH2) final.
“I’m so tired right now,” said Wetwithan, after she and partner Sujirat Pookham defeated Japan’s Ikumi Fuke and Rie Ogura 21-10 21-12.
Wetwithan had earlier won her WH2 women’s singles match against the top seed, Turkey’s Emine Seckin, 21-16 21-17.
At this same tournament in 2018, Wetwithan won silver in the women’s singles and gold in the women’s doubles but managed only silver at the TOTAL BWF Para-Badminton World Championships in Basel in August 2019.
On home ground Wetwithan was unbeatable this week, making it through her singles and doubles group and elimination rounds without dropping a game.
“I went into both my matches today very confident and particularly in the doubles I was able to read my opponent’s moves quite well and that was the advantage my partner and I had over them,” said Wetwithan.
Not fully satisfied with her almost flawless performance this week, she added: “I’m grateful to Sujirat and the Thai team for their support but this win is mainly for all my hard work. Still, I know I need to continue to improve. I need to look at the mistakes I’ve made and ensure I correct them in the lead up to the Paralympics.”
Sarina Satomi clinched the women’s singles Wheelchair 1 (WH1) gold for Japan defeating Germany’s Valeska Knoblauch 21-17 21-13.
The mixed doubles WH1-2 final turned out to be as entertaining as it was challenging for the athletes when Israel’s Nina Gorodetzky and Amir Levi took on Cynthia Mathez (Switzerland) and Abu Hubaida (India), winning 18-21 21-13 21-14.
“The group matches were easier and we beat this pair in two games but it’s only expected that they will fight harder for the final,” said Levi.
“Nina and I have a great partnership on the court. We understand each other and usually I’m the one deciding how we play especially when we’re down a game. She’s really good at covering her corners and based on that I know exactly where I need to be,” explained Levi.
This win means more than just gold as it also makes up for their quarterfinal loss in Basel last month, particularly for Gorodetzky, who also missed out in the singles at the World Championships.
“Not many people want to play mixed doubles because it’s not in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics but I love it. It gives me a chance to play differently and I have a great understanding with Amir.
“Whereas in singles I have to challenge myself and playing against someone like Sujirat really allows me to stretch my limits,” said Gorodetzky.
Chan Gets His Win
As expected, the men’s singles WH2 final drew a crowd as Hong Kong’s Chan Ho Yuen faced off against world champion Kim Jungjun of Korea.
Unlike in Basel, however, it was Chan who seemed to have it in the bag from the start.
“I really wanted this,” said Chan.
Losing to Kim in the final of the World Championships in August meant that Chan missed his chance at the world No.1 spot. They are now even in head-to-head this year, having played six finals with each winning three.
“I’ve won here after a few tough matches, especially playing the Koreans because they are some of the best wheelchair athletes in the world. I think I’ve shown very consistent performance this week.”
Commenting on his opponent, Chan added: “I don’t know if maybe he hasn’t quite recovered from a long three-game doubles match yesterday and even his singles semifinal was not easy but I also think I was more confident on court today.
“I just wanted it more maybe. We’re equals so every time we play now it comes down to our mental strength and who wants it more.”
Korea’s head coach Kim Myo Jung said: “This morning Kim was having trouble focusing on both his finals since he had to play the men’s doubles as well as singles so I think his concentration was a little off.”
Kim Jungjun made up for his loss in the singles when he won the men’s doubles WH1-2 partnering Lee Sam Seop to defeat teammates Jeong Jae Gun/Kim Kyung Hoon, 19-21 21-11 24-22.
Korea also made it a gold-silver finish when Lee Sam Seop beat Lee Dong Seop in the men’s singles WH1 final, 16-21 21-17 21-17.