Thursday, September 19, 2019

Hopes high for Thai women but no pressure, says coach

Aug 10. 2018
The Thai badminton team with coach Rexy Mainaky, fourth from left in the back row, after a practice session at the Badminton Association of Thailand.
The Thai badminton team with coach Rexy Mainaky, fourth from left in the back row, after a practice session at the Badminton Association of Thailand.
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By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
The Nation

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Thailand’s national badminton coach Rexy Mainaky remains positive about the Kingdom’s chance at the Asian Games, despite being up against the world’s best players.

  The Indonesian badminton legend hopes that his players will be able to build on their recent success in big events and make their presence felt when their competition starts next Sunday in Jakarta.

 “After they came back from four World Tour Super events and one World Championship, it’s great to see that they still have a fighting spirit as a team,” said Mainaky, the 1996 Olympics men’s doubles gold medallist.

 “As a team we still have the same feeling from the Uber Cup and Thomas Cup, even though some players did well in some World Tour events and some did well in the World Championships. So I still believe we can do something [in the Asian Games],” added the 50-year-old. 

Thailand’s historic achievement in reaching the final of the women’s Uber Cup on home soil, including a win over regular champions China in the semi-finals, caused excitement all over the country. The women’s team event therefore offers one of Thailand’s main medal hopes in the sport.

 Although Mainaky also sees great potential for the women’s team, he is concerned that expectations may place too heavy a burden on their shoulders. China, Uber Cup champions Japan and hosts Indonesia are still the heavy favourites, he says, to dominate the women’s team event.

 “The coaching team must not put pressure on the players just because they made history in the Uber Cup. We have to make the players think they are still underdogs and play like they have nothing to lose. The past is the past. We have to look forward. My focus is to make the team solid again,” added Mainaky.

 He is also optimistic about Thailand’s chances of a medal in the doubles and individual events if they show impressive form in the earlier team events. 

“I believe we still have a chance in the mixed doubles {where Thailand is represented by Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai]. Even Tinn [Isriyanet] and Diego [Kittisak Namdash] were the only duo that took Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda to three games [21-12 18-21 21-16],” Mainaky said. 

Tinn and Kittisak lost to the Japanese players in the second round before the latter went on to win men’s doubles gold at the recently-concluded World Championships.

 Mainaky also hopes Thai No 1 Ratchanok Intanon will regain her confidence after a flop at the Worlds, where she exited in only the second round, and that Thai No 2 Nitchaon Jindapol and the No 1 in the men’s singles, Kantaphon Wangcharoen, live up to their potential.

“I hope Ratchanok can recover from a not-so-good performance in a few tournaments. Nitchaon always plays well in Indonesia and has a lot of fans there. So I hope she can take this opportunity to perform well.

 “Also, in the men’s singles, Gun [Kantaphon] has nothing to lose. I think he is the one who can come up with a surprise. So I believe they can deliver medals for Thailand,” the coach concluded. 

After winning bronze medals in the men’s and women’s teams events in 2010 in Guangzhou, Thailand came home empty-handed from Incheon 2014. Thailand also only won one gold at Bangkok 1966, in the men’s team event.


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