They now call him ‘Ben Bindai’ – Thai for “Ben Can Fly”.
‘Ben’ – Nanthakarn Yordphaisong – and his partner ‘Oat’ (Chaloempon Charoenkitamorn) – were indeed flying around during Thailand’s Thomas Cup group stage matches against Korea and Indonesia last week, evoking gasps from commentators and scorching social media.
Virtually unknown outside Thailand until they took the court, for they are the 12th ranked Thai pair at world No.220 – they turned into viral stars during their matches against Kang Min Hyuk/Seo Seung Jae and Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan. The two threw themselves all over the court, returning the shuttle from impossible positions, and while they did lose both matches, they won a legion of fans for their acrobatic retrievals.
Thai fans 🇹🇭 are on their feet after this stunning point from Charoenkitamorn/Yordphaisong 🏸👀.@TotalEnergies
— BWF (@bwfmedia) May 9, 2022
Yordphaisong says he first started diving around as a basketball player; his acrobatics helping him steal the ball from bigger opponents. The style stuck with him when he picked up badminton. Oat too is a basketball fan.
The duo briefly played together before pairing up with other partners. Charoenkitamorn has lately partnered Kittisak Namdash, while Yordphaisong has been with Ruttanapak Oupthong.
However, with most of Thailand’s top doubles names missing from the Thomas Cup line-up, Charoenkitamorn and Yordphaisong were elevated to play first doubles against both Korea and Indonesia. Such was their energy and drive that they elicited wry smiles from Ahsan and Setiawan, who couldn’t quite believe that the shuttles kept coming back.
“It doesn’t matter how hard the shot is. The first thing on my mind is that I have to take it, unless it has already dropped to the floor,” says Yordphaisong.
Playing on home soil has been the stuff of their dreams, and they are set on getting better.
“We’re very proud of ourselves that we made the Thailand team, with all our friends cheering us on. We have been training long and hard to make the team for this tournament. Playing against the top pairs like Ahsan and Setiawan, we have been able to discover our weaknesses; we’ll try to get stronger and get into a higher level,” says Charoenkitamorn.