And the young star has set new goals – to become the world No 1 and win a gold medal at the Olympics.
The 18-year-old caused a sensation around the country on Sunday when she stunned world No 1 Li Xuerui of China in the BWF World Championships women’s singles final in Guangzhou. She became the youngest winner of the women’s singles title and the first ever from Thailand.
The teenager, who will reach No 2 in the rankings this week, was presented with a “Grateful Child” shield from Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawali at Amporn Gardens before receiving her most valuable present from the Queen via a royal representative at the Badminton Association of Thailand (BAT) headquarters.
“I’m deeply grateful for Their Majesties’ gracious kindness and continuing support of Thai sports. I’m even more inspired to work harder and try to win more tournaments,” said an overwhelmed Ratchanok.
She was also granted royal bouquets from His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana.
“I want to be No 1 in the world within one or two years and to win the Olympics gold medal at Rio de Janeiro,” said Ratchanok, who was tied up with many activities yesterday including posing for Praew magazine, attending a talk show on Channel 3 before having dinner with her family and godmother Kamala Thongkorn, the owner of Banthongyord Badminton School, where she trains.
Ratchanok or May, as she is called by her family and friends, said she would buy a refrigerator and a washing machine for her mother Kamphan as a present for Mother’s Day.
Kamphan, who is a worker in a sweet factory, said she wanted her daughter to remain the same and keep working hard to reach the top. “I always taught her to be humble as she was not from a rich family like other kids. I told her to be well behaved. She is a very well disciplined girl. That’s why she has got to this stage,” she said.
Thai media cheered the teen star with a flurry of ecstatic headlines as the nation celebrated its first gold at the badminton worlds.
Ratchanok, who still has braces on her teeth, sprang a shock when she defeated Chinese Olympic champion Li Xuerui 22-20 18-21 21-14 on Sunday in Li’s own backyard.
Pictures of the smiling teenager gripping her trophy after the showdown in Guangzhou adorned almost every front page as Thailand revelled in a rare ray of golden glory.
“Thai badminton roars, May swats China and collects the championship,” proclaimed the Thai language Thai Rath, referring to her nickname.
“May – a historic champion. The whole nation is elated,” Siam Sport said.
Ratchanok’s victory over Li, also aiming for her first world title, broke China’s stranglehold on the championship. It is also a fairytale win for the teen, whose career started at the age of five when the owner of the factory where her parents worked sent her to train at a nearby badminton academy.
The teenager, regarded as one of the best young players in the sport, supports her family through her sporting career.
Kamala, who owns both the factory and the badminton school, attended the final.
“This is another triumph – we did not expect that success would be this fast,” she told AFP. “I am so proud of her,” the 54-year-old Kamala said.
The Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) recently suggested that it will be looking into suspects’ online-chat history.
NHRC chairwoman Amara Pongsapich yesterday warned that such a move would be very much like tapping a telephone line to listen to a private conversation.
The examination of online-chat histories, she warned, carried risks of violating people’s rights.
The plan is reportedly linked to the TCSD’s summonses for four persons who posted online political comments deemed by police as a false statement that could have caused public panic and the hoarding of food and water.
Sermsuk Kasitpradit, who now works as Thai PBS’s political and security editor, is among the four summoned.
Police plan to study the conversations and comments posted on the popular social-media application Line to see if they violate the law or threaten national security.
Pol Maj Ge Pisit Pao-in, commander of the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD), said the agency had asked Line Corporation in Japan to cooperate, but had failed with other operators of social-media websites as they were mostly in the West and did not allow such investigation.
“We have been talking to them [the operators of social media] a lot, but they do not want to cooperate. When they want anything, they expect to get it, but when we ask them for something, they rarely help us. They have taken a lot from Thailand but refused to cooperate with Thailand. I won’t let them go if they make any mistakes,” he warned.
TCSD officials will be sent to Japan to seek information about suspicious Line users in Thai-land. The Nation contacted Na-ver Japan, the developer of Line, yesterday for feedback and was told that the company would respond today. Although Pisit admitted that his agency had the means to keep track of people’s chat records, it had decided to ask Naver Japan to be ready to send a report on chat records when asked. His agency has yet to hear of the company’s decision.
“We are not violating anybody’s rights, as the checking is being done overseas. So you can’t really attack me for this,” he said.
Pisit said his agency also had the authority to check people’s social activities on smart phones.
“Nowadays people use smart phones like a mobile computer. They use it to take videos, upload information, transfer money and connect to social networks. Therefore, we have to investigate information being sent via smart phones as well,” he said. “If I want, I can investigate all the information on smart phones. We can investigate all the crimes done via computer systems.”
Last week, Pisit summoned four suspects for allegedly breaching Article 14 of the National Computer Act and Article 116 of the Criminal Law by posting messages via social media, saying they anticipated a coup and urged people to stock up on food and water. He said such statements could put people in a state of panic, and those who “liked” or “shared” the messages could be considered violators of the law as well.
This action was met by an open letter of opposition from four professional media organisations. Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission also issued a statement warning the police to use their authority carefully and not violate people’s fundamental rights and freedoms.
NHRC chairwoman Amara Pongsapich said looking into people’s online chats was a violation of their rights, and clear guidelines that are acceptable globally should be identified first.
— Phuket Gazette Editors
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