SEA Games: Thailand's Suthansini trounces S'pore's Tianwei

SEA Games: Thailand's Suthansini trounces S'pore's Tianwei
Thailand's Suthasini Sawettabut (right) beaten Malaysia's Ng Sock Khim to win the gold medal in the 28th SEA Games, Women's single final at Singapore Indoor Stadium on 4 June 2015.

Both women's singles finalists have their own fairy-tale stories to tell.

Malaysian Ng Sock Khim, 31, came back from a career-threatening knee injury, and wasn't even slated to play at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games women's singles until three weeks ago.

Thailand's Suthasini Sawettabut served up the biggest upset of the table tennis competition, when the 20-year-old stunned home-favourite Feng Tianwei in the group stages to advance to the semi-finals.

She had to dig deep to earn a place in the final, coming back from 0-3 down to beat Vietnam's Mai Hoang My Trang 4-3 (16-18, 10-12, 9-11, 13-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-9).

But, after a 54-minute gold-medal match at the Singapore Indoor Stadium last night, only Suthasini got to live happily ever.

The youngster beat Ng 4-3 (7-11, 11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-4) to win Thailand's first gold medal in the sport in 32 years.

The Ranong native said: "I am so happy to win the gold medal today. It's like a dream come true.

"When I found out I was in the same group as Feng in the group stages, I didn't have any expectations for this event because it's too difficult to beat her."

PRESSURE

She and her head coach Korakij Sermkijseree said the world No. 4 Singaporean seemed to be under a lot of pressure yesterday and didn't play well.

"Beating Feng gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the competition," said Suthasini, who finished fourth in the girls' singles at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games here in 2010.

"Even though I started slowly in my matches after I beat Feng, I wasn't nervous and took it slowly so as to not put too much pressure on myself."

Korakij added: "It's been very difficult to beat the Singapore team in South-east Asia, but we have been training very, very hard for a good number of years to close up the gap."

There was no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for Malaysian Ng, who was understandably distraught after the final.

She had contemplated retirement after going through four operations on her right knee in the last five years, and was slated for only the women's team event until the coaches let her replace Ho Ying in the women's singles three weeks ago.

Ng said: "It is such a pity. I guess I lost out tonight because I rushed my play during the crucial moments."


This article was first published on June 5, 2015.
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