AFTER reaping a historic four SEA Games gold medals, the Badminton Association of Thailand (BAT) wants to cement its place as a regional powerhouse by appointing a new coach for the singles players.
Badminton is one of the few sports that overachieved at last month’s regional sports extravaganza, when it returned four SEA gold medals (women’s team, doubles, mixed doubles and men’s doubles) for the first in 58 years.
However none of the gold medals came from the singles events and that had prompted the association to search for a new specialist singles coach.
The current national coach Rexy Mainaky of Indonesia is more of a doubles and team expert with 1996 Olympic gold medal in men’s doubles and Asian Games gold medals in doubles and team events to his credit.
“What we achieved in the SEA Games is beyond expectation. We won more gold medals than Indonesia,which has always been the No 1 badminton country in SEA Games,” said badminton boss Patama Leesawadtrakul.
“But we won’t stop at that as we want to achieve higher. We were disappointed we didn’t win a singles gold medal, especially in the women’s singles, in which we had high hopes.
“So we are talking with a few candidates and should reach a final agreement soon,” said Pattama, who is also hoping to be approved as an International Olympic Committee member in Peru on September 16.
2015 champion Busanan Ongbamgrungphan was highly expected to defend her gold medal in the SEA Games but was surprisingly knocked out in the quarter-finals by Indonesian Gregoria Mariska
Tunjung 12-17 20-22 17-21.
Rising star Pornpawee Chochuwong was stopped in the semi-finals by Goh Jin Mei of Malaysia while in the men’s singles Khosit Phetpradab was beaten by Jonathan Christie 19-21 10-21 in the final.
“Busanan was a bit too confident after she was three points away from the win in the match which took its toll on her. Mental aspect is something we want our national players to improve
with the Asian Games and Thomas & Uber Cups coming next year,” said national coach Mainaky who started supervising the national team in January.
BAT hoped to win at least a medal in the 2018 Asiade in Jakarta and have a team reach the final of the world mixed team Thomas & Uber Cups which will take place in Thailand for the first time in May 2018.
Meanwhile SEA Games silver medalist Khosit Phetpradab shook off a shaky start to beat Kodai Naraoka of Japan 12-21 21-19 21-10 to reach his first World Grand Prix final in the Yonex Sunrise Vietnam Open yesterday.
In the women’s doubles, Chayanit Chaladchalam and Phataimas Muenwong reached their third finals this year, beating Indonesian Anggia Shitta Awanda and Yulfira Barkah 21-17 17-21 21-8.