‘Lucky’ Carr qualifies for Olympics
Cyclists Amanda Carr and Jutatip Maneephan have qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Amanda Carr celebrates her win at the 2014 Asian Games.
But while Jutatip earned a ticket to the Games thanks to her world ranking in the road event, US-based Carr was lucky to get an Olympic berth in the BMX competition.
Both Jutatip and Carr were gold medallists at the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea.
Carr, whose father is American and mother Thai, had failed to qualify for Rio because her world ranking was not high enough.
However, the 25-year-old received an Olympic ticket after a Brazilian athlete qualified for the Games in her home country through the recent World Championships.
Brazil had earned a berth as the host country and the unused place was given to the next best ranked country, Thailand.
On her Facebook page, Carr, who will be making her Olympic debut, thanked all the support that helped make her dream become true.
“Holy cow, I qualified for the Olympics!!! My heart is so full! To everyone in the world who has ever been a teammate, a friend, mentor, family member, or has supported and guided me, this smile is for you,” she wrote.
“We did it. I could never have accomplished this without the help of your love!!! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
Jutatip, 27, will be making her second Olympic appearance after her first in London in 2012.
At the Rio Games, the road competition will be held from Aug 6-7 and the BMX competition from Aug 17-19.
Ratchanok eyes gold
As the humble daughter of factory workers at a Bangkok sweet-maker, badminton was a ticket out of poverty for Ratchanok Intanon, who hopes winning gold at the Rio Olympics might inspire more Thai girls to chase their dreams.
The 21-year-old will be among Thailand’s main medal hopes in Brazil and one of the chief threats to China’s chances of defending their astonishing sweep of all five badminton titles at the London Games.
Ratchanok is spurred by a painful memory of London, where, as a teenage sensation set to rock the Chinese establishment, she choked in a quarter-final when poised to defeat the tournament second seed, Wang Xin.
“Actually I think I had a chance to win or [be] close to the medals,” Ratchanok told Reuters ruefully in an interview in Sydney yesterday.
“But I think I lost with the experience, because that time I was still young and she was also good, world class. So maybe… mentally she was better than me.
“That time, I didn’t feel good after losing. I felt like I didn’t want to train again. I felt I didn’t want to play badminton again.
“But I had support. My family, who love me, just said that it’s okay, you still have time. Just learn more.”
Ratchanok did not wallow for too long.
The following year, she became badminton’s youngest world champion at the age of 18 when she stunned Olympic champion Li Xuerui in the final of her home tournament in Guangzhou.
Ratchanok has had injury troubles and dips in form since her world title but has been in ominous condition in recent months, capturing three consecutive Superseries tournaments to rise to the world No.1 ranking in April.
She has since conceded it to Spain’s two-time world champion Carolina Marin but her brief spell at the top sent Thailand into a frenzy.
Rather than shy away from the hype, Ratchanok has embraced the expectation.
“I hope that I can get the gold medal for Thailand,” said Ratchanok, standing on a terrace at her hotel adjacent to Olympic stadiums built for the 2000 Sydney Games.
“It’s not too difficult for me and I believe that I can do it.”
Ratchanok had an unusual route into badminton, being handed a racquet at the age of six and told to go play outside the factory where her parents worked making sweet Thai desserts.
Xie Zhuhua, who once battled China’s current head coach Li Yongbo during competition in the 1990s, has coached Ratchanok since her junior days and is seen as key to her ability to unlock the games of her Chinese rivals.
“He just takes care of me like I’m his daughter, because he also doesn’t have [one],” Ratchanok said of their special relationship.
“He loves me like a daughter and takes care of me. For me, he’s like a second father.”