Eventual success at the World Singles Qualification Tournament in mid-March in Doha, secured Thailand’s Suthasini Sawettabut a place in the women’s singles event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, play commencing in the city’s Metropolitan Gymnasium on Saturday 24th July.
In her initial stage matches, she was beaten in the final by Russia’s Polina Mikhailova (11-8, 11-6, 9-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8), the result meant that alongside the further three players who had finished in runners up spot, Spain’s Maria Xiao and Galia Dvorak in addition to Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska, she progressed to concluding knock-out event.
Responding the challenge, she beat Margartya Pesotska (4-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9) and Maria Xiao (13-11, 5-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-8) to reserve her Olympic place for what is her third time.
Previously, she had competed in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, overcoming Congo Brazzaville’s Han Xing (11-9, 10-12, 7-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9), prior to losing to Li Jiao of the Netherlands, the no.20 seed (12-10, 11-8, 9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5).
Hard fought matches and a degree of disappointment but nothing when compared with her Olympic debut. She played in the first ever Youth Olympic Games, competing in 2010 in Singapore; it was there she finished in the worst position possible.
Safely through to the quarter-finals, she accounted for Japan’s Ayuka Tanioka (11-7, 11-4, 12-10, 11-8), before losing to the host association’s Isabelle Siyun Li (11-9, 11-6, 11-6, 11-9). The defeat meant that she faced Korea Republic’s Yang Haeun in the bronze medal match, she was beaten in five games (9-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-7, 11-6).
The event was won by China’s Gu Yuting, she accounted for Isabelle Siyun Li (11-8, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9).
So near yet so far in Singapore for Suthasini Sawettabut, but there is an element of consolation; of the semi-finalists, now over a decade ago, she is the only one who will be present in Tokyo
Editor: Ian Marshall