Suthasini no longer just another player in the hall
SINGAPORE: Suthasini Sawettabut was just another name in the Thai table-tennis team. Until now, that is.
The Thai announced her arrival on the SEA Games stage with a gritty 4-3 (11-7, 5-11, 8-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 4-11) win over Malaysia’s Ng Sock Khim in the women’s singles final at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Thursday.
It ended Thailand’s 32-year wait for a women’s singles gold medal in table tennis.
Suthasini even pulled off one of the biggest upsets when she rallied from a set down to beat Glasgow Commonwealth Games triple gold medallist Feng Tianwei of Singapore 3-1 in the last Group C match. She also came from behind to edge Vietnam’s Mai Hoang My Trang 4-3 in a marathon semi-final.
What a turnaround this has been for Suthasini. It was at the same venue that she lost out on the bronze medal in the girls’ singles four years ago in the first Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.
“It’s like a dream,” said Suthasini through her coach Korakij Sermkijseree Korakij, who acted as translator.
The 20-year-old now has a medal of every colour at the SEA Games, having won silver in the mixed doubles with Padasak Tanviriyavechakul on Wednesday and bronze in women’s doubles with Nanthana Kongwong on Tuesday.
The paddler, who hails from a small province called Ranong in Southern Thailand, can add one more medal to her collection when the three-day women’s team event takes place from today. Thailand are drawn in Group B with Malaysia and Indonesia.
“The win against Tianwei and the gold medal have given me a lot of confidence. I hope we can get the (women’s team) gold,” said Suthasini.
“I didn’t come here with any gold medal target. In the singles, I thought no way. Tianwei is the world No. 4 ... I didn’t even think I would make it past the group stages. I just wanted to do my best.
“Singapore have dominated (the women’s game) for a long time and I knew it would be difficult to beat them on home ground. But we’ve been working hard over the years to close the gap. We always try our best.”
The women’s doubles final was an all-Singapore affair between Tianwei-Yu Mengyu and Lin Ye-Zhou Yihan. Lin Ye-Yihan won the gold.
That clearly makes Singapore, who are in Group A with Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, the clear favourites for the team gold.