The 28th King’s Cup Sepak Takraw World Championships held in Udon Thani, Thailand between the 16th and 22nd of September has been run and won, and our very own Australian National Team is coming home with a bronze medal from the Division 2 Men’s Regu event! The King’s Cup is the biggest and most prestigious sepak takraw competition in the world, with over 600 competitors and team officials representing 26 different countries from 5 continents.
The Australian Team was represented by:
Alex Newman (c) (Darwin)
Daniel Ellen-Barwell (Darwin)
Garry Condoseres (Darwin)
Veng Thao (Brisbane)
Team Manager: Nattapong Teerakaew
ASTA Vice President: Jude Ellen
Media: Barbara Clarke
The Australian campaign started in the division two men’s doubles (2 players per side, plus substitutes) with Alex Newman, Daniel Ellen-Barwell and Veng Thao sharing the load on the first day with a relatively easy win against Sri Lanka (15-5, 15-9, 15-4) followed by two tougher matches against Cambodia and Chinese Taipei. Australia started poorly against Cambodia and dropped the first set quickly before fighting back in the second and third sets, only narrowly losing the third set – the teams were evenly matched, but ultimately too many mistakes meant that Australia lost the match (10-15, 12-15, 16-17). For the third match of the day, Australia faced up against Chinese Taipei, and with the game starting at 1am (after already being at the venue for 17 hours!) both teams were heavily fatigued. As with the match against Cambodia, Australia started poorly before coming close in the second and third sets but fatigue took its toll and Australia lost the match (10-15, 13-15, 12-15).
After losing to Cambodia and Chinese Taipei on the first day, Australia lost the chance to reach the semi finals of the double event, but at least got the chance to make amends for the day one losses with a morning match against Macau. The team was weary after their late night doubles match the previous day, and with only a few hours sleep they played well to defeat Macau convincingly in straight sets (15-0, 15-3, 15-12). Veng Thao and Daniel Ellen-Barwell started the match before Garry Condoseres made his debut for Australia, replacing Veng Thao for the second and third sets.
The third day saw the start of the division two regu event (three players per side, plus substitutes) and the Australian contingent was confident of a good result with a strong four man team consisting of Daniel Ellen-Barwell playing as setter, Veng Thao as spiker while Alex Newman and Garry Condoseres shared the serving duties. The Australian team opened well with a win against Macau (15-5, 15-2, 15-9) before facing division two heavy weights Germany in the afternoon. The Germans form a strong and very experienced team, and with over ten years of international competition experience under their belt they were the team to beat in division two. And so it was, Australia was a bit too shaky and the consistency of the German team proved too much. Australia lost the match (10-15, 11-15, 5-15).
After the disappointing loss to Germany on day three, Australia came out swinging against Bangladesh in the morning match and with a rotation of Alex Newman and Garry Condoseres in the service circle, won comfortably (15-7, 15-11, 15-8). The next match for team Australia proved more difficult than expected, when they faced a determined squad from Nepal – who performed better than anyone had anticipated in their first ever King’s Cup appearance. It was a match that perhaps shouldn’t have lasted so long, as Australia’s players clearly had the more advanced skills – but after training together for only ten days prior to the competition, the Australians lacked cohesiveness on their side of the net and were still shaky on court. It turned into a nail biting match that Australia just managed to win at golden-match-point in the final set (13-15, 15-4, 10-15, 15-9, 17-16). With three wins and one loss in the regu, Australia made it through to a semi final against Chinese Taipei – and thankfully had a couple of hours to recoup after the not-so-convincing win over Nepal.
The semi-final against Chinese Taipei was the highlight of the tournament for team Australia, as both teams were at a similar skill level and the match went down to the wire over five sets. It was a tight match the whole way, with both teams fighting hard to come out on top – but Australia eventually lost to Chinese Taipei (15-12, 11-15, 9-15, 15-13, 9-15) but earned a bronze medal for their trouble!
The two teams we lost to in the regu event: Germany and Chinese Taipei, went on to play each other in the final. Their match went out to five sets before Germany finally secured the win (15-11,14-16,15-9,13-15,15-12)
Off the court it was also a very busy week for the Australian team manager Nattapong Teerakaew, and the Australian Sepak Takraw Association Vice-President Jude Ellen, with many meetings with ISTAF officials and other team’s officials. The result of which is a very exciting future for sepak takraw in Australia with many avenues to persue.
All of the Takraw Australia players and officials would like to thank everyone for their support and encouragement, and rest assured we will be working hard over the next twelve months to build a stronger team for the 2014 King’s Cup!
The best way to keep up to date with all things sepak takraw, and check out hundreds of photos of team Australia is by checking our facebook page at: facebook.com/TakrawAustralia