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TOKYO: Thai boxer Chatchai-decha Butdee is just one win from winning an Olympic medal after defeating Mirko Cuello of Argentina 4-1 to reach the quarter-finals of the men’s featherweight (57kg) division on Wednesday.
Chatchai-decha, 36, dominated the last-16 round fight against the 20-year-old opponent.
It is the Thai’s best result in the Olympics after being eliminated in the round of 16 in his first two Games appearances at London 2012 and Rio 2016.
The Sa Kaeo native, formerly known as Chatchai, is considered one of Thailand’s best medal prospects as the boxing team are seeking redemption following an empty-handed campaign five years ago.
But he will face a much tougher test in Cuba’s Lazaro Alvarez in the quarter-finals with the winner assured of a bronze. “The Cuban boxer is a southpaw and skillful. It should be an exciting bout,” said Chatchai-decha. “I hope I get a medal. I can tell you that I am 36 but still going strong.”
Sudaporn Seesondee (women’s 60kg) and Juthamas Chitrapong (women’s 51kg) have reached the last-16 round.
Thai boxer Chatchai-decha Butdee, right, fights Mirko Cuello of Argentina in the featherweight last-16 round on Wednesday.
‘We’ll be back’
The Thai badminton team had mixed fortunes at the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday as Ratchanok Intanon was through to the knockout stages but mixed doubles hopes Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai crashed out of the quarter-finals in disappointing fashion.
Men’s singles star Kantaphon Wangcharoen also failed to make it to the last 16 after losing to Great Britain’s Toby Penty 19-21, 12-21 in Group K.
World No.6 Ratchanok was put to the test by Soniia Cheah Su Ya of Malaysia in their last Group N match before the Thai gritted her teeth to claw back from a 19-21 loss in the first game and 16-17 down in the second to win the last two games 21-18, 21-10 for a spot in the last 16.
However, the journey of medal prospects and world No.2 Dechapol and Sapsiree came to a premature end.
After benefiting from a flurry of unforced errors from reigning All England champions Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino of Japan to take the opening game 21-15, the Thai pair lost their nerve and let their A game desert them to drop the next two games 16-21, 14-21 after 67 minutes of battle.
Ratchanok is back in her third successive round of 16 in the Olympics.
Thai shuttler Ratchanok Intanon celebrates her win against Malaysia’s Soniia Cheah Su Ya.
“I am always in a bit of a challenge to myself when I play in big tournaments. I need to play my best, and I feel pressure too all the time,” said the 2012 Olympic quarter-finalist.
Today, both Ratchanok and compatriot Busanan Ongbamrungphan will test their mettle against tougher opponents in the last 16.
Ratchanok has a clash against world No.23 Gregoria Mariska Tunjung of Indonesia, who has lost all her previous seven matches against the Thai.
Busanan, on the other hand, has an uphill task against world No.8 An Se-Young of South Korea, a player who she failed to take a set from in their two previous encounters.
Dechapol and Sapsiree, meanwhile, were downhearted after their loss.
They kicked off the season exceptionally with a hat-trick of wins in three World Tour Super 1000 titles in January and came to Tokyo with high hopes of taking a medal for Thailand.
“It’s a shame we could not move on but we will try to come back in the next Olympics,” said Sapsiree.
Dechapol said: “We made too many mistakes and were on the defence too much. We will return home to improve our game and hope to return stronger next time.”
Thailand have never won an Olympic medal in badminton.
In shooting, Savate Sresthaporn shot 74 points to stay second behind Abdulrahman Al Faihan of Kuwait after three qualifying rounds of the men’s trap competition.
The 58-year-old marksman, the oldest Thai athlete at Tokyo 2020, has two more qualifying rounds today to reach the six-man final.