Thai teen Ratchanok Intanon defeats top-seed Li Xuerui at World Championships
Agence France-Presse in Guangzhou
Thai teenager Ratchanok Intanon took the women's singles title, beating China's Olympic champion Li Xuerui 22-20, 18-21, 21-14 in a massive upset.
Ratchanok, 18, becomes the first ever Thai player to win gold at the world championships after defeating 22-year-old top-seed Li.
At the end of the match Ratchanok dropped to her knees in tears before bowing to an applauding stadium crowd.
A smiling Ratchanok, who still has braces on her teeth, said she would meet Thailand's Queen Sirikit today, which is a national holiday to mark the queen's birthday and Mother's Day.
"I am going to bring my victory to the queen and to my mother and godmother as a gift," Ratchanok said. "Before this match I didn't have confidence when I was competing against the top players, but after today I will.
"Li was not playing like herself. I felt really relaxed and I think she was nervous. I have played her five times and she has won four, so it was amazing that I beat her today."
It was a fairy-tale moment in a career that started when she was five years old and her parents were working in a dessert factory, taking Ratchanok with them each day.
Ratchanok and other children were sent to a badminton academy by the factory owner, who felt it was dangerous for them to be there. "Being the champion has been my dream," she said. "At the end of the match all the tough moments from all the years came into my mind and I thought, 'Finally, I got it'."
A deflated Li said she had found it hard to concentrate. "It wasn't being the top seed that affected my mindset - I think I was just too eager to win," she said.
"We prepared thoroughly for the match, but it was hard to implement the plan. When I tried to execute my strategies, I would make errors.
"My opponent played very well and seemed very relaxed, which put a lot of pressure on me."