Thailand’s Kunlavut spills blood to win badminton world crown

Tuesday, Aug 29, 2023

COPENHAGEN: Thailand´s Kunlavut Vitidsarn spilt blood, sweat and finally tears as he became badminton world champion after an attritional 19-21, 21-18, 21-7 victory over Japan´s Kodai Naraoka in Copenhagen.

The 22-year-old world number three, who was runner-up a year ago, is the first Thai to win the men´s singles title at the World Championships.

World number four Naraoka, also 22, put Kunlavut through an excruciating match of marathon rallies that lasted 109 minutes on Sunday -- one of the longest men´s singles matches ever.

Kunlavut´s blood had to be wiped off the court several times as he threw himself around to keep the shuttle alive in a series of lengthy rallies.

"I´m very happy, this has been a dream for me since I was a child," said an emotional Kunlavut.

"When I was young I´d promised my coach that I would get the gold medal. He passed away and I dedicate this gold medal to him.

"I had three targets when I was young -- Olympic Games, world championships and All England (championships). Now I have achieved one of those, so two are left."

It was the second longest world championships men´s singles final, eclipsed only by the 124-minute epic between China´s Sun Jun and Denmark´s Peter Rasmussen in the inaugural world championships in 1977. "I needed to be prepared for a long match with Kodai," added Kunlavut.