China marked their re-entry to international competition by taking gold in five of their seven standing class finals but fell to Malaysia and Indonesia in the doubles at the Thailand Para Badminton International 2023 in Pattaya.
In SH6, Indonesia’s Rina Marlina and Subhan Subhan made easy work of mixed pair Lin Naili/Li Fengmei 21-16 21-10.
“We’d never played them but we quickly adapted and that’s all we needed. We are very sure of ourselves,” said Marlina.
Also facing a new rival across the net, Cheah Liek Hou and Muhammad Fareez Anuar (Malaysia) triumphed 21-15 24-22 21-14 over Mingpan Li/Shi Shengzhuo (China) in SU5 men’s doubles.
“The younger guy (Li) is very good, works hard. It took us a while to figure them out. Just a bit sad Malaysia only has one gold this time,” said Cheah, who lost in the singles semis.
SH6 men’s singles world No.1 Man Kai Chu of Hong Kong China was calm and in control until the end of his 21-12 21-8 win against American Miles Krajewski.
“Miles is fast but my strategy always works. I am always in control of my emotions and stick to my game. Miles is playing well and has so much potential but today he seemed distracted. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt is you need to stay focused on yourself and your opponent. Nothing else matters at that moment,” said Chu.
Poland’s Daria Bujnicka/Oliwia Szmigiel topped the SH6 women’s doubles group ahead of India’s Rachana Shaileshkumar Patel/Nithya Sre Sumathy Sivan to take gold.
China dominated the women’s singles, taking all four gold.
India’s Thulasimathi Murugesan found SU5 Paralympic gold medallist Yang Qiuxia just too much to handle and succumbed 21-17 21-17.
“I put up a healthy fight. I told myself I’ll give it 100 per cent. I got to about there but made a lot of mistakes because I was hurrying.”
Murugesan is unfazed by her world champion and Paralympic medallist compatriots and opponents.
“I love the speed of this sport but I have to develop my own style. I admire them all for their achievements but I have to be myself and not try to emulate anyone. This is how I aim to keep going,” said the 21-year-old.
China claimed another Indian scalp when Lin defeated Sivan in SH6 women’s singles 21-11 18-21 21-17.
Turkey’s Halime Yildiz gave it her all in SL3 women’s singles but failed to overcome Zuxian Xiao, losing 13-21 21-17 16-21.
Indonesia’s Leani Ratri Oktila fell 21-13 21-18 to Cheng Hefang in SL4 women’s singles.
Her partnership with Khalimatus Sadiyah Sukohandoko in SL3-SU5 women’s doubles was not enough to overcome Xiao/Yang, who won 21-16 8-21 21-18.
Oktila’s redemption came in mixed doubles with Hikmat Ramdani as they defeated Lucas Mazur/Faustine Noel 21-3 21-19 for the gold.
“The Chinese being back has shaken things a bit but overall, I’m satisfied with what I’ve done here. I know I’ve improved since the first tournament this year,” said Oktila. “And this new partnership is working well. Hikmat was amazing, I couldn’t have done it without him.”
Hikmat added: “We won in Brazil and now here. Lucas seemed tired but we were prepared for anything and played a clean, compact game.”
Pramod Bhagat won the SL3 men’s singles gold when England’s Daniel Bethell retired after the first game.
“I’m not satisfied because I wanted a full match, I haven’t beaten him in a long time. I wanted that chance,” said the Indian.
Bethell, who had been playing well the whole week, started having some breathing difficulty over the last 24 hours.
“I managed the semifinals comfortably enough but today I struggled with laboured breathing and wheezing, and just couldn’t carry on. Pramod and I have a long history of finals together and I’m sure it would have been another good one but there’s nothing more important than my health,” said Bethell.