Today, she is recognised as one of the best female shuttlers as she had a memorable 2013 where she shocked number one Li Xuerui to win the BWF World Championships in August. FOX Sports Asia have naturally picked the Thai sportswoman as one of the candidates for the inaugural Asian Sporting Icon Award (ASIA).
At an age when many individuals appear barely ready for the trials of adulthood, Ratchanok has surpassed expectations and set the country alight. Her achievement is all the more remarkable when considering the fact that the teenager stumbled into the sport largely by happenstance.
The daughter of two migrant workers, Ratchanok was given the chance to play the sport when Banthongyod sweet factory owner Kamala Thongkorn took pity on the prodigous child.
"Several badminton players are children of my workers. I saw them play near their working parents and was afraid accidents could happen. From then on, we prepared badminton items for them and sent them to the courts," Kamala told the Nation.
"In layman's terms, she would have been just an ordinary country girl if she hadn't been given this opportunity."
Given the opportunity, Ratchanok took to the sport and played every day and began to win every local tournament, often beating opponents that were several years older.
Winning the Badminton World Junior championship at the tender age of 14, Ratchanok made herself known and solidified her reputation with two further wins in 2010 and 2011. Shifting to the senior tournament seemed a natural step but noone could have foreseen how quickly she would succeed at the elite level of the sport.
A terrific 22-20 18-21 21-14 win against China's Li, also the reigning Olympic Gold medalist in badminton, secured her the accolade of the sport's youngest world champion. It came just over a year after the youngster had erupted into tears when returning to Thailand without a medal from the 2012 London Olympics and the unbridled joy on her face was a pleasure to watch for fans of every denomination.
Even Li was impressed with the calm poise showed by her opponent on the night in Guangzhou as she said: "My opponent played very well and seemed very relaxed, which put a lot of pressure on me."
Not bad at all for a girl who has yet to remove her braces.
Her main goal now appears to be a gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympics. At the rate at which she has been improving, the top shuttlers from China, South Korea, Japan and India will definitely have to consider Ratchanok as a serious threat indeed.
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