Adiwang hopes to start season strong with win over Kawahara #SootinClaimon.Com

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Adiwang hopes to start season strong with win over Kawahara

Jan 19. 2021 Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang

By THE NATION

Filipino fighting phenom Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang is first up to bat for Team Lakay this year, as he climbs into the ONE Circle looking to make a huge statement. After a year full of setbacks for the Baguio-based martial arts outfit, Adiwang hopes to set the stage for an incredible Team Lakay resurgence.

Adiwang, formerly ranked #5 in the ONE Championship official athlete rankings at strawweight, dropped a close split decision to Japan’s Hiroba Minowa just a few months ago. In his next bout, “Thunder Kid” is out for redemption and wants it in the most satisfying way.

Adiwang is set to face Namiki Kawahara at ONE: UNBREAKABLE, live on Friday, 22 January at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore.

“Namiki is a good, well-rounded fighter. I can’t underestimate him or say anything bad about him. I just need to be careful. He appears to be strong in all areas. However, I do see some holes in his game that I plan to expose. If I can impose my will and execute the game plan, I will be victorious,” said Adiwang.

“He’s faced some good, strong opponents in the past. But the big difference is that he has never faced a fighter like me. I’m better in all areas, including my submission game and my striking. It’s going to be a technical, high level fight.

“One mistake and I will finish him. I will make his first mistake, his last,” Adiwang added.

Prior to the loss to Minowa, Adiwang was riding a seven-bout winning streak, and was one of the hottest fighters in ONE Championship. He earned his way to the main roster via ONE Warrior Series, joining the web series reality show in 2018. Under the watchful eye of mixed martial arts legend Rich Franklin, Adiwang flourished into an explosive contender.

According to Adiwang, the loss to Minowa was a much needed learning experience, and he plans to apply the lessons he learned in his future fights.

“I made a lot of mistakes in that fight. I just wasn’t focused and sharp. A lot of things were happening in my life. For this next one, I’m going in there with clear focus. When I enter the Circle, it’s time to throw down. That fight taught me a lot. I learned from it and I will move forward a better fighter,” said Adiwang.

“I’ve worked hard on my game over the last few weeks. It was a quick turnaround for me after the holiday break. I’m coming back better than ever before. I think now I’m much more experienced in the fight game. Experience is always a huge advantage.”

Unfortunately for Adiwang, Minowa took over his #5 spot in the rankings. But the Filipino firebrand isn’t all too concerned. He’s looking to finish Namiki Kawahara and make a case for more massive fights down the road that could boost him to even loftier peaks.

“I congratulate Hiroba Minowa on taking the spot from me in the rankings. For me, however, it’s not too big of a loss. Relinquishing my #5 ranking is not something that I will dwell on. My goal is to be #1, and to be champion. Other rankings don’t matter,” said Adiwang.

“Right now my aim is to just get back in there, keep facing the top opponents, and keep winning. Namiki Kawahara is a strong contender and I think it’s going to be a good fight. If I can beat him soundly, then maybe it can make a case for another big fight this year.”

ONE: UNBREAKABLE is ONE Championship’s first live event in 2021. The main event features a ONE Super Series showdown between ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Champion Alaverdi “Babyface Killer” Ramazanov of Russia, who defends his world title against #2-ranked bantamweight kickboxing contender Capitan Petchyindee Academy of Thailand.

Marin mauls world No. 1 Tai to win Thailand Open #SootinClaimon.Com

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Marin mauls world No. 1 Tai to win Thailand Open

Jan 18. 2021Carolina Marin of SpainCarolina Marin of Spain

By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
THE NATION

Olympic gold medalist Carolina Marin of Spain produced a flawless performance to upset world No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan and win the women’s final of the $1-million Thailand Open on Sunday at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani.

The Spaniard won the final 21-9, 21-16 for her fifth BWF World Tour title.

The world No. 6 did not drop a game during the whole week as she lifted her first crown since winning the Super 300 event in Lucknow, India in December 2019.

Throughout the 42-minute encounter, the three-time world champion never allowed Tai to get into any momentum, unleashing a series of aggressive and well-placed shots to beat the Taiwanese for the seventh time out of 16 meetings.

“Firstly, I wanted to enjoy every point, and I did, so I feel very happy. It was my determination; I want to keep going over the next weeks. I wanted to show her [Tai] from the beginning that I wanted to win,” said Marin, the only player to have won three world titles — 2014, 2015 and 2018.

“I feel really happy that I could change my mind from last year; I had a difficult year personally in 2020, but I recovered well and my mind should decide what I want for the future, whether it’s the Olympics or World Championships,” added the left-handed Marin, who has won three Super 1000 titles, including the 2018 and 2019 China Open.

In the men’s singles showdown, former world No 1 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, despite having a cold, tamed Ng Ka Long Angus of Hong Kong 21-14, 21-14 for his second straight Super 1000 victory after winning the All England Open in March last year.

“I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent going into the final. But I’m happy that I managed to win the match,” said the world No. 4.

In the men’s doubles, Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin of Taiwan narrowly beat Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong of Malaysia 21-16, 21-23, 21-19.

Indonesian duo Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu celebrated their third Thailand Open women’s doubles title by outclassing local hope Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai 21-15, 21-12.

However, hosts Thailand had earlier enjoyed success when mixed doubles top seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai won their first home title together by beating Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti of Indonesia 21-3, 20-22, 21-18.

Thailand Open II will start next week, also under a closed-door policy at the Impact Arena in Nonthaburi province. Players are trying to book their place in the World Tour Finals, which will take place during the last week of January.

A mixed bag for Thais at Thailand Open #SootinClaimon.Com

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A mixed bag for Thais at Thailand Open

Jan 17. 2021Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree TaerattanachaiDechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai

By THE NATION

The ace Thai badminton duo of Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai reigned supreme in the US$1-million Yonex Thailand Open World Tour Super 1000, overpowering Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti.

The Thai pair won the mixed doubles title, their first ever on homesoil after a hard-fought, three-game thriller at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani on Sunday.

The 21-3, 22-20, 21-18 victory was not only sweet revenge for Dechapol and Sapsiri against Praveen and Melati, to whom they had lost 1-2 in the final of the All-England Open Championships last March, but also handed the Thai duo their first win in the World Tour Super 1000 event, the first Thais ever to achieve so.

However, seventh-seeded Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai did not have the same luck. They were outplayed by two-time champions Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia 21-15 21-12 in the women’s doubles final. It was the third Thailand Open title for the pair, who had also won in 2017 and 2018. But Polii has won this title four times, the first with Nitya Maheswari in 2013.

Top seeds and world No. 3 Dechapol and Sapsiree got off to a brilliant start against the second seeds and world No. 4 from Indonesia, taking a 7-3 lead in the opening game. The Thai duo dominated with back-to-back powerful smashes, allowing their opponents no chance to attack, winning the game easily at 21-3.

The Indonesians fought back in the second game and quickly surged to a 13-8 lead. However, their joy was short-lived as Dechapol and Sapsiree tightened their defence and bounced back with lightning-fast attacks and effective cross-court drop shots to draw level at 20-20. Praveen and Melati hung on to tie the match 1-1, winning the second game 22-20.

Dechapol and Sapsiree played with more consistency in the thrilling decider. As the Indonesians improved their defensive tactics to lead 13-10, the Thai pair showed their power and footwork to level scores at 13-all and again at 17-all. After that, Dechapol and Sapsiree attacked relentlessly, allowing the opponents only one more point to capture the decider 21-18 and the mixed doubles title.

The victory has improved the Dechapol/Sapsiree’s head-to-head record to 3-4 against Praveen and Melati.

“It was an intense match. We did not let them play an attacking game against us. Instead, we played more aggressively to prevent them from attacking. They also made more mistakes than us. I would like to thank them for teaching us. Despite our hard training for nine months, we still had many mistakes to learn and correct. I think we were well-prepared for this match, while they had much more pressure and made more mistakes,” said Dechapol who had earlier won three titles alongside Sapsiree in the Singapore Open, Korea Open and Macau Open, all in 2019.

“After all tournaments were cancelled due to the impact of Covid-19, we still continued our hard training to make us well-prepared for three major events in Thailand. Winning the Yonex Thailand Open has boosted our confidence to play much better in the remaining two events. After this, we have to stay in good shape, physically and mentally and maintain our concentration,” said Sapsiree.

“I would like to thank all Thai fans and supporters. We will try to do our best in the next tournament — the Toyota Thailand Open,” she added.

The next event will be the Toyota Thailand Open World Tour Super 1000 to be held from January 19 to 24 at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani.

Doubles stars keep Thai flag flying high in Thailand Open #SootinClaimon.Com

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Doubles stars keep Thai flag flying high in Thailand Open

Jan 17. 2021

By THE NATION

Doubles duos kept Thai hopes for titles in the $1-million Yonex Thailand Open alive at Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani on Saturday.

Sapsiree Taerattanachai and Dechapol Puavaranuhroh 

The Thais survived gruelling battles to reach the mixed doubles and women’s doubles finals.

Top seeds Dechapol Puavaranuhroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai saved two match points at 18-20 in the decisive game to beat Seo Seung Jae and Chae Yu Jung of South Korea 17-21 21-17 22-20, while the duo of Rawinda Prajongjai and Jongkolkphan Kititharakul were in top form to upset fourth-seeded Kim So Yeong and Kong Hee Yong 21-17 17-21 22-20 after a 75-minute battle.

“We came onto the court with only one win out of four duels against them,” said Jongkolphan. “But we tried to learn from that loss and worked something out. After the first game, we wanted to win so much that we lost focus and made errors in crucial points,” she added.

Rawinda Prajongjai and Jongkolkphan Kititharakul

Rawinda and her partner have won two BWF World Tour levels, one in the 2018 Thailand Masters, and the 2019 Chinese Taipei Open, both Super 300 events. They will eye their biggest title on Sunday in the Super 1000 home tournament in the final against arch-rivals Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia who have a 4-1 win-loss record against them.

“We expect another tough match on Sunday and it could go on for more than an hour again. We hope to play at this level again,” Rawinda said.

Tai Tzu Ying

In the singles actions, world No 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan and three-time world champion Carolina Marin of Spain will square off for the women’s title after they scored comfortable semi-final wins.

Red-hot Tai, who has lost only one match in her four latest BWF World Tour events, was briefly challenged by Mia Blichfeldt before prevailing 21-8 23-21, while world No 6 Marin had earlier relied on her experience to stem the run of rising teenage star An Se Young of South Korea 21-18 21-16.

“The first game was quite comfortable and I was able to control it. But in the second game, the speed of the shuttle was different down that end and I had to adapt to that. No one wants to go to the third game,” said the Taiwanese star, who has reached the finals in all of her latest four events, including the All England Open which she won last March.

The world No 1 will enter the final with a better record against the Spaniard who she has beaten in nine out of 15 encounters.

“I will only focus on myself, cut out my errors and try and be as best prepared as possible,” she said.

Marin who sat on the No 1 throne in June 2015 rose to the occasion whenever she was put to the test by the 18-year-old An.

“I really performed well against An Se Young. I feel very happy because I was really focused on court. I didn’t feel any negative situation for myself, and I think if I play like this, I’m so ready for tomorrow,” said the three-time world champion who praised her young opponent as the future of badminton.

In the rematch of the 2019 men’s singles  final, defending champion  Chou Tien Chen of Taiwan was knocked out of the competition by Ng Ka Long Angus of Hong Kong 21-17 18-21 15-21.  The world No 8 Ng will play reigning All England Open champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark who came back from a dismal form in game two to beat  Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia  21-19 13-21 21-13.

Dechapol and Sapsiree keep Thai hopes alive in Thailand Open #SootinClaimon.Com

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Dechapol and Sapsiree keep Thai hopes alive in Thailand Open

Jan 16. 2021Sapsiree Taerattanachai and Dechapol Puavaranukroh Sapsiree Taerattanachai and Dechapol Puavaranukroh

By THE NATION

The Thai duo of Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai lived up to their billing as the top seeds, producing an epic comeback to beat Korean left-handers Seo Seung Jae and Chae YuJung to advance to the mixed doubles final of the US$1-million Yonex Thailand Open World Tour Super 1000 at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani.

In a rematch of the 2020 Yonex All-England semi-finals, world No. 3 Dechapol and Sapsiree recovered after losing the first game against the fourth seeds and world No. 6 from South Korea for a hard-fought 17-21 21-17 22-20 win on Saturday.

After going down to the Koreans 17-21 in the opening game, Dechapol and Sapsiree made amends with a strong comeback in the second game, with Dechapol producing powerful jump smashes and Sapsiree moving around the court swiftly.

The Thais took the thrilling game 21-17.

In the do-or-die tiebreaker, Dechapol and Sapsiree still relied on their strong defence to lead from the beginning before Seo and Chae hit back gallantly to level at 10-10 and broke away to 18-14. As the Koreans became more prone to unforced errors, Dechapol and Sapiree gradually pulled their game together to catch the rivals at 18-all. However, Seo and Chae won two points in a row to take a 20-18 lead, needing only one more point to take the game and the match.

The Thai duo refused to give up and fought on. They caught up with the Koreans again at 20-all and bagged two more points to win the decider 22-20, and a place in the final.

“In the first game, we focused on our defence, but made a lot of mistakes, while in the second and third games we improved our attack. We found our rhythm,” Sapsiree said after the match.

“I think our unforced errors came as a result of our key focus on receiving. We later worked more on attack and that was the key to our success today. Our coach also gave us useful tips to play them more effectively. We followed the coach’s instructions. We played more aggressively with confidence and consistency and we then got things done,” Dechapol added.

Sapsiree said, “In the second and third games, we played according to the coach’s instructions. I just told myself to play more carefully to avoid unforced mistakes. In Sunday’s final, we will do our best.”

For Dechapol and Sapsiree, it was a repeat feat against the Korean rivals in 10 months. At the All-England last March, the last event held ahead of the cancellation of all tournaments due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Thai pair had pulled off a dramatic 2-1 (21-18 17-21 21-19) win in the semi-finals, only to go down 1-2 to Indonesians Praveen Jordan/Melati Daeva Oktavianti in the final clash to pick up a silver medal.

However, Dechapol and Sapsiree are looking forward to sweet revenge against Praveen and Melati as the Thai duo will go up against the second seeds in Sunday’s final.

Ratchanok stunned but local duos book semi-finals at Thailand Open #SootinClaimon.Com

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Ratchanok stunned but local duos book semi-finals at Thailand Open

Jan 16. 2021Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree TaerattanachaiDechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai

By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
THE NATION

Doubles players were left flying the flag for Thailand after a trio of home stars including two-time champion Ratchanok Intanon were eliminated from the $1-million Yonex Thailand Open on Friday.

Competing behind closed doors over Covid-19 concerns, mixed doubles hopes Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai and women’s duo Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai won their quarter-finals to become the only Thais left in the elite Super 1000 tournament.

Top seeds Dechapol and Sapsiree fought heroically to dump Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying of Malaysia 21-18 21-17 for a place in the semis.

“We felt the pressure because every point mattered, but we were more controlled and refused to play their game, which gave us an edge,” said Sapsiree.

“We played our usual fast game and drew them into our game plan,” Dechapol added.

Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai

Meanwhile Jongkolphan and Rawinda defeated Laksika Kanlaha and Atitaya Povanon 21-10 21-17 in an all-Thai women’s doubles quarter-final.

However, it was a disappointing day for Thai women’s singles representatives. In the biggest upset of the day, teen prodigy An Se-young of South Korea produced a spectacular performance to stun two-time champion and world No 5 Ratchanok Intanon 22-20 21-12.

Then, former world champion Carolina Marin of Spain overcame Supanida Kate 21-16 21-16, before Mia Blichfeldt of Denmark upset Busanan Ongbamrungphan 21-13 21-18.

An Se-young

Meanwhile, in-form world No 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan maintained her perfect record to book a semi-final berth with a one-sided win over Canada’s Michelle Li.

The 10-time BWF World Tour winner displayed her superior all-court game to dispatch Li 21-11 21-13, improving her career record against the Canadian to 8-2. Tai is yet to drop a game in the tournament.

“I never expect any match to be easy – I always expect them to be harder and then I can manage [my expectations] during play,” said the reigning All England Open winner.

“I still have a lot of room to get better,” added the 26-year-old from Kaohsiung, who has lost just one match in her last three outings.

In the men’s singles, world No 2 Chou Tien Chen of Taiwan remained on track to defend his title by beating Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia 21-17 21-15.

“I had more patience and I won most of the long rallies. I think he wanted to attack [too much] and maybe lost some focus. Whether I win or lose a point I stay calm and that helps me,” said the defending champion.

Viktor Axelsen

Former world No 1 and 2017 world champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark showed no mercy in culling Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie 21-14 21-5.

“I was expecting a tougher match. Last time we met at the French Open it was a really tough match, we both ended up cramping at the end. So, I wanted my revenge today and I got it,” said the world No 4, who was beaten by Christie in a marathon French Open semi-final two years ago.

Capitan Petchyindee Academy ready to realize dream of becoming ONE World Champion #SootinClaimon.Com

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Capitan Petchyindee Academy ready to realize dream of becoming ONE World Champion

Jan 16. 2021Capitan Petchyindee AcademyCapitan Petchyindee Academy

When Thai striking sensation, Capitan Petchyindee Academy, joined ONE Super Series in 2020, he had a firm goal in his mind, and that was to eventually become a World Champion for the all-striking super league.

Now, months after scoring a shocking 6-second knockout over six-time Muay Thai and Kickboxing World Champion Petchtanong Petchfergus, he’s earned the right to challenge for the title.

The #2-ranked bantamweight kickboxing contender, Capitan is set to take on reigning ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Champion Alaverdi “Babyface Killer” Ramazanov of Russia in the main event of ONE: UNBREAKABLE, scheduled for Friday, 22 January at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore.

The Thai warrior says he’s fully ready and confident he can realize his dream of winning the ONE Super Series belt.

“Right now, I’m already a hundred percent ready for this fight. I believe in my heart that this is the year I become a ONE World Champion,” said Capitan.

“That belt will be mine, I’m claiming it. If I can get it, it will mean a lot to me. It will be the most valuable thing in my life.”

Against Ramazanov, however, Capitan faces a formidable champion. Ramazanov is a three-time IFMA World Champion from the rugged Dagestan republic of Russia, known for producing elite-level fighters in different martial arts disciplines. Ramazanov captured the title with a five-round unanimous decision victory over China’s Zhang Chenglong in December of 2019, and now he’s set to make his first title defense.

Capitan has been working extra hard since his emphatic victory over Petchtanong Fergus, despite the challenges presented by COVID-19 restrictions in Thailand. But he maintains that he’s adapted well to the ‘new normal’ and promises a spectacular performance.

“It has been hard to deal with the restrictions from COVID-19, but I’ve adapted well. I just protect myself better in general, making sure to remain hygienic, and following all the health and social distancing guidelines when going out,” said Capitan.

“After my last fight, I hit the gym really hard and have been training constantly. My goal is to capture the ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Championship. Becoming a ONE World Champion is at the top of my priority list.”

ONE: UNBREAKABLE is ONE Championship’s first live event in 2021. The event also features a co-headliner between former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki, and American James Nakashima.

Thai badminton queens reign to grab quarter-final spots #SootinClaimon.Com

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Thai badminton queens reign to grab quarter-final spots

Jan 15. 2021Busanan OngbamrungphanBusanan Ongbamrungphan

By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
THE NATION

Thailand’s world No 12 Busanan Ongbamrungphan snuffed the challenge of 2012 champion Saina Nehwal of India to advance to the last eight of the US$1-million Thailand Open with a 21-23 21-14 21-16 win at Impact Arena on Thursday.

Ratchanok Intanon

The 2017 finalist dug deep after conceding the first game to the former world No 1, showing stronger stamina to win their marathon battle in 68 minutes.

“Saina is renowned for her competitive nature, so I just tried to stay with her in the rallies. If she didn’t miss it, I wouldn’t miss. It was a really long match,” said a delighted Busanan, one of three Thais still in the women’s singles draw.

Supanida Katehong

The others are Ratchanbok Intanon, who tamed Germany’s Yvonne Li 21-11 21-15, and unfancied Supanida Katehong who beat Evgeniya Kosetskaya of Russia 21-16 21-8.

“I give her credit for trying to chase down all those shots, but I played better at key points,” said Ratchanok, who lined up a clash against An SeYoung of South Korea on Friday.

Fifth-seeded Carolina Marin of Spain also advanced after settling an old score with Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-8 21-12.

The Spanish world No 6 avenged a heart-breaking home loss in the Barcelona Masters final in February last year with a 34-minute demolition of Pornpawee.

“I lost my last match to Pornpawee at the Barcelona Spain Masters, but that was a completely different situation [after] my father’s accident,” said the lefthanded Spaniard, a three-time world champion.

“I played there because it was in Spain and the people wanted to watch me. Now I feel much better and ready for this tournament,” added the fifth seed, who is targeting at least one title from the three BWF events taking place in Thailand until January 31.

Earlier on Thursday, world No 1 and top seed Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan booked his quarter-final berth by storming past South Korean Kim Ga Eun 21-16 21-10 in just 29 minutes.

“I felt better today and had less unforced errors compared to yesterday. It has been a while since the last tournament, and this is the same for everyone, so [these first few matches] are not easy,” said Tai, who won the All England Championship last March – the final tournament before world badminton entered 10 months of Covid-19 hibernation.

Viktor Axelsen

While Thai women triumphed on Thursday, it was a completely different story for their male compatriots. All three – Kantaphon Wangcharoen, Kosit Phetpradab and Kunlawut Vitidsarn – crashed out in straight games.

Booking quarter-final slots at their expense were tournament favourites Chou Tien Chen of Taiwan (world No 2), Denmark’s former world No 1 and ex-world champ Viktor Axelsen, and Asian Games gold medalist Jonatan Christie of Indonesia.

In the mixed doubles, top pair Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai shrugged off a first-game loss to beat Malaysia’s world No 12 Goh Soon Huat and Lai Shevon Jemie 20-22, 21-18, 21-12.

Adiwang fights in honor of late mother #SootinClaimon.Com

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Adiwang fights in honor of late mother

Jan 15. 2021

Team Lakay upstart Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang had a rough start to the year, as the 27-year-old from Baguio City, Philippines recently lost his mother Leticia, who has suffered multiple strokes since 2016. She passed away on 30 December, just before a tumultuous year ended for Adiwang.

“There is nothing a mother wants more than to see her child happy and successful. I know my mother loved me so much, and she just really didn’t want me to get hurt, which is why she didn’t fully accept me being a fighter with her whole heart,” said Adiwang.

“But I chose this career, and I believe she was happy to see me succeed in what I love to do. I know in my heart she is proud of me, and I will continue to live my life in her honor.”

Members of Team Lakay rushed to Adiwang’s aid, to show their support. The team, along with head coach Mark Sangiao, convened in the first few days of 2021, to attend the funeral service. After his mother was laid to rest, Adiwang expressed his intent to turn the year around.

“My teammates have always been there for me. They’ve supported me through the hardest times. They are like family to me. I am very lucky to have a good support system,” said Adiwang.

“Nothing has changed in my mindset. The goal remains the same for me. I’m climbing to the top. If anything, I just got more motivated and driven. I want to prove myself in this next fight, and to do that, I have to be at my best.”

Adiwang is scheduled to make his return to the ONE Circle at ONE: UNBREAKABLE, scheduled for Friday, 22 January in Singapore. It’s his first fight back since losing a close split decision to Japan’s Hiroba Minowa in November.

Adiwang maintains that the experiences he’s gone through in the past few months have only made him stronger.

“I am more motivated now than ever to achieve my goals, and apply the lessons I learned in 2020, especially. I know the pressure is on, and I can feel the pressure. I know I have to prove myself to the world again, to earn the people’s trust. I’m working on coming back stronger than ever,” said Adiwang.

“I think everything happens for a reason. My setbacks today will be what makes me a better fighter for tomorrow. All the hard work I’m putting in will pay off in God’s perfect time. I just want to thank everyone for their support in my darkest hour. The race has just begun for me, but I promise to finish strong.”

ONE: UNBREAKABLE is ONE Championship’s first live event in 2021. The main event features a ONE Super Series showdown between ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Champion Alaverdi “Babyface Killer” Ramazanov of Russia, who defends his world title against #2-ranked bantamweight kickboxing contender Capitan Petchyindee Academy of Thailand.

Ratchanok shakes off rust to make winning return at Thailand Open #SootinClaimon.Com

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Ratchanok shakes off rust to make winning return at Thailand Open

Jan 14. 2021Ratchanok Intanon Ratchanok Intanon

By THE NATIONTwo-time champion Ratchanok Intanon was among top seeds cruising through to the second round of the $1.5-million Thailand Open at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani on Wednesday.

The world No 5, whose glittering career features two Thailand Open titles in 2013 and 2017, beat Yeo Jia Min of Singapore 21-15 21-15 to join countrywoman Pornpawee Chochuwong who picked off Neslihan Yigit of Turkey 22-20 21-13.

Playing her first tournament since the All England Championships in March last year, Ratchanok showed signs of rust from the long layoff but was sharp where it mattered on key points.

Thailand’s badminton queen admitted to nerves on her return after 10 months against an unfamiliar opponent.

“I tried to study her game at the start of the match as I had no idea about her strong and weak points. I pushed myself to stay in the game and took control,” said Ratchanok.

Playing without spectators due to strict Covid-19 rules, Ratchanok urged fans to stay safe and support Thai players from home.

“You can help by staying home, while I will try hard to do my part by producing good results. My target is reaching the semi-finals, which is something I’ve never done in a 1000 World Tour level event,” she added.

Also advancing on Wednesday was world No 6 Carolina Marin of Spain. The three-time world title holder (2014, 2015 and 2018) ousted Qi Xuefei of France 21-10 21-12.

“I came determined to win but also to keep focused on my game plan. Winning here is what I want,” said the 27-year-old lefthander.

In men’s singles first-round action, defending champion and world No 2 Chou Tien Chen of Taiwan shook off rust in the opening game to beat 2016 winner Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand 16-21 21-10 21-14.

“He has a different style, so it is difficult to follow the shuttle,” said Chou. “He played really well at the net in the first game. I had to change my plan and move him and improve my attack and control to open the point up.”

Meanwhile, 

Former world No 1 Saina Nehwal of India put Tuesday’s nightmare behind her to beat Selvaduray Kisova of Malaysia 21-15 21-15 and move into the second round of the Thailand Open on Wednesday.

The Indian star had withdrawn from the US$1-million tournament on Tuesday after testing positive for Covid-19 – but was then allowed to re-enter after a negative test just hours later.

“On Tuesday I arrived at the courts but was immediately taken to hospital after my third test came back positive,” said Nehwal, adding she had already contracted and recovered from Covid-19 in November.

“I tried to explain [the Covid recovery] to the doctor and, after my blood tests and chest X-rays, the doctor said I was okay and did not have Covid-19,” said the Indian star, who thanked doctors and the Badminton World Federation for allowing her to play.

“It was a tiring day, but I’m happy I could come back and play my match,” said the 30-year-old from Hyderabad.

The current world No 20 was declared clear of the virus after her blood tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies on Tuesday evening.

She will play Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan in round two.

Her compatriot Prannoy HS, who was also allowed to re-enter the tournament after testing positive then negative, was less fortunate – beaten 13-21 21-14 21-8 by eighth-seeded Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia.