Surprise silver for Thailand's men's doubles pair
Chanakarn and Padasak stun Singapore's No. 2 pair to earn second place
It was a silver medal that felt like gold.
The unheralded Thai table tennis pair of Chanakarn Udomsilp and Padasak Tanviriyavechakul had come together only at the start of the year, and arrived in Singapore "not expecting anything".
But, showing some tactical brilliance and a wonderful dose of fearlessness, the duo produced the first major upset at the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games when they beat the Republic's No. 2 pair, Chen Feng and Clarence Chew, 4-3 (11-7, 11-8, 5-11, 3-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-4) in the semi-finals at the Singapore Indoor Stadium yesterday afternoon.
Even though they were ultimately outclassed in the final by Singapore's top men's pair of Gao Ning and Li Hu, who won 4-0 (11-8, 11-8, 12-10, 11-4), the Thais made a strong impression by preventing an all-Singaporean final in a sport which the Republic dominate in the region.
They will also be remembered as much for their exuberant celebrations as their smashing forehands and well-disguised flicks against world No. 127 Chen and world No. 193 Chew.
SEA Games debutant Chanakarn, a 25-year-old who is not world-ranked, told The New Paper: "Singapore are the favourites and we did not expect to beat either pair in the semi-final or the final.
"So we were already very happy to make the final.
"We took it step by step, tried not to rush and fought hard for every point."
World No. 222 Padasak, on the other hand, has already attracted attention by topping the ITTF World Junior Circuit standings at one stage last year.
The 19-year-old, who won a team silver in his first SEA Games appearance at the 2013 Myanmar Games, added: "In the semi-final, we played with confidence, and we played our short game well. Even in the last game, we had no fear going for flicks or forehand shots.
"Our opponents felt the pressure and were a little scared whenever we attacked."
"Our opponents in the final were just too strong for us.
"We tried our best, and pushed them to deuce in the third game, but just couldn't get the breakthrough.
"This has been a great experience and we hope to go further in our table tennis careers."