Ratchanok Intanon (Thai: รัชนก อินทนนท์; born 5 February 1995) is a female badminton player from Thailand. She holds the distinction of being the youngest singles World Champion ever after she won the Championships in 2013 defeating Li Xuerui of China.
Ratchanok won her first individual International title in 2009, while she was only 14, by winning Vietnam International Challenge. She made an history by becoming the youngest-ever champion at the BWF World Junior Championships at 14 when she triumphed in Malaysia. She also reached SEA Games 2009 Badminton WS final, but lost to her compatriot Salakjit Ponsana.
In 2012 Ratchanok, at 16 years of age, was awarded the Best Female Athlete Award in Thailand after winning the world junior title for three successive years. Ratchanok's biggest goal is to win the Olympic gold medal. However, at 2012 London Olympics quarter-final match with Wang Xin, despite leading 21–17 and 16-9 in the second game, she failed to close the match and eventually lost 21–17, 18–21, 14–21. She reached the finals of the SCG Thailand Open 2012, but losing to Saina Nehwal 19–21 21–15 21–10 in the finals. She entered the finals of Super Series tournament for the first time in 2012 China Open Super Series Premier, but losing to Li Xuerui 12-21, 9-21.
2013 is one of Ratchanok's golden years. She reached the finals of the 2013 All England Open Badminton Championships, losing to Tine Rasmussen 14–21, 21–16, 10–21. Despite her loss, she is still the youngest singles finalist ever at the All England tournament. She finally won her first Superseries tournament by winning Juliane Schenk 22-20, 21-14 in Yonex Sunrise India Open 2013 to become the youngest ever Superseries winner, with the age of 18 years 2 months 22 days (She hold this record for 6 months until Akane Yamaguchi won Japan Open 2013 with the age of 16). She again reached the finals of the SCG Thailand Open 2013. This time she won the title, beating Busanan Ongbumrungpan 20-22, 21-19, 21-13 to become the first Thai ever to win the women's singles title at the Thailand Open since first held in 1984.
After the Thailand Open, she decided to withdraw from both Indonesia Open SSP and Singapore Open SS to recover from her foot injury and prepare for the BWF World Championships. In August, Ratchanok won the BWF World Championships, beating world number 1 and Olympic gold medallist Li Xuerui 22-20 18-21 21-14 in the final. She is the first ever Thai player to be the World Champion. At the age of 18, she is also the youngest singles World Champion ever. She is the World Champion who is still eligible to play in 2013 BWF Junior World Championships in Bangkok. After World Championships, she injured her back that forced her to withdraw from another two super series events, Japan Open and China Master. Ratchanok didn't qualify for Super Series Final in Malaysia and finished 2013 as the World number 3. She was awarded "2013 Best Females Athletes Award" from Thailand Sport Authority.
Ratchanok reached final of Korea Open for the first time, but lost to Wang Yihan 13-21, 19-21. Her head-to-head statistics with Wang Yihan has been increased to 0-8. She was awarded "Best Asian Sporting Icon" by FoxSportAsia, base on voting from internet fans from its website.
Ratchanok is the daughter of Winutchai Intanon and Kumpan Suvarsara. She also has a brother. Ratchanok was born in Yasothorn province in the Northeast of Thailand, but moved at the age of 3 months with her parents, who worked at the Banthongyord sweets factory in Bangkhae district of Bangkok. As a child, Ratchanok would run around near the cooking furnaces. Kamala Thongkorn, the owner of the factory, worried that she would be burned by boiling water and hot sugar, so she supported Ratchanok in playing badminton at the factory's badminton courts. She started playing when she was six years old, and won her first championship at the age of seven.
Ratchanok used her prize money and endorsement fees to support her parents and brother. Her father opened a food shop with her help. "I wanted to be a national player like my older friends and play for the country, because that was the only way I could help my parents to improve our status and leave poverty" she said.
Ratchanok currently trains at the Banthongyord Badminton School. Her coach is Patapol Ngernsrisuk, former Olympian and son of Kamala Thongkorn but China's Xie Zhuhua who used to be Li Yongbo sparring partner who was sent to the Banthongyord Badminton School in a partnership with the Thai Badminton Federation and China in 1992 is Ratchanok's coach if she plays tournaments in China. Ratchanok's room-mate at the Banthongyord Badminton School is Pattarasuda Chaiwan.