Little Hina Akechi upsets top seed for U15 singles crown in Mandalay

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She stands only 150cm tall but her brilliant footwork landed Japan’s Hina Akechi the Under-15 women’s singles title in the Badminton Asia Under-17 & Under-15 Junior Championships in Mandalay, Myanmar on Sunday.

Her stunning 25-23, 21-19 win over Thai favorite Thamonwan Nithiittikrai in the 34-minute final won her the crowd support at the Mandalar Thiri Multi-Purpose Stadium.

The soft-spoken Akechi became the star attraction as the fans cheered her and gave her the support she needed against her much taller and more prominent opponent.

Thanks to her quick footwork and gutsy performance it was Akechi’s show against all odds.

Akechi could only smile and pose for pictures with fans and other badminton players after receiving her medals.

But beneath that lies her steely guts and determination – sending strong signals that she is another Japanese star in the making in the shuttle sport – Akane Yamaguchi, Nozomi Okuhara, and Sayaka Sato.

“I did not fear to face my taller and more prominent sized opponent on the court. The Thai was the favorite but I was ready to throw in my challenge. There are other aspects of the game to beat your opponents.

“My footwork did the trick. I am so excited and happy to be the champion. This gives me the confidence to look at better things to come in my badminton career,” said Akechi as she celebrated her new found “status’ as the Asian champion.

Thailand, however, retained the women’s singles Under-17 title through top seed Benyapa Aimsaard – clinching victory in straight games 21-17, 21-11 over Indonesia’s Aisyah Sativa Fatetani in 30 minutes.

“Of course I am excited to win the title…more importantly for my country,’ said a smiling Aimsaard,

At the same championships, held in Yangon last year, Aimsaard lost to compatriot and eventual champion Pattarasuda Chaiwan in the quarter-finals.

Aisyah, although disappointed with the defeat, is happy to win the silver medal in her debut in the Badminton Asia Championships. Badminton Asia

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