Prof. Charoen Wattanasin

Prof. Charoen Wattanasin
Thailand
Born: 04 April, 1937

Charoen Wattanasin is the standard bearer for Thailand badminton, having been involved in the sport for more than 60 years.

He was twice All England men’s singles runner-up but also twice won the World Invitation singles title in Glasgow as well as many titles in Asia, Europe and USA on the way to becoming Thailand’s greatest player.

He was elected an IBF Council member in 1974 and served the IBF for 31 years, rising to Vice President in 1990 before retiring in 2005.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000 and made an Honorary Life Vice President in 2005.

IBF Career

1974-76: Elected council member

1982-90: Member of ICT Committee

1984-2000: Member of Development Committee and Publicity Committee

1990-2005: Vice President

2000: Inducted to IBF Hall of Fame

2004: Athens Olympic Games Technical Delegate

2005: Honorary Life Vice President

Badminton Asia Confederation

1971-78: Member of the Executive Committee

1987-91: Honorary Secretary General

1991-95: Vice President

Badminton Association of Thailand Career

1972: Elected a committee member of the Badminton Association of Thailand (BAT)

1980: Founded the Thailand Badminton Federation when Thailand badminton split

1986-2001: Elected Honorary Secretary General of BAT when the split ended

2002-2013:President of BAT

2005-2008: Executive Committee of the Thailand National Olympic Committee

2007- : Councillor to South East Asian Games Federation

2009- : Vice President of the Thailand NOC

2009- : Member of the Rules Committee to the Olympic Council of Asia

The name Charoen Wattanasin is the byword for Thai badminton. A great player of the 1950s, a coach to the King of Thailand, a top referee and a fine administrator at national, continental and international level, culminating in an IBF Life Vice Presidency in 2005 to go with a deserved place in the Hall of Fame in 2000.

Charoen, who was born in Chiang Mai, the Northern capital city of Thailand, might never had become a badminton player but for a cut eye putting paid to a promising boxing trainee lesson. So he switched to a safer pursuit and one which brought him success and fame.

Initially he dominated events in North Thailand before heading for Bangkok and stiffer opposition. Under the strictest disciplined training from Pravat Pattabongse (Luang Thammanoon Vudhikorn to give him his official Royal title) his game developed so much so that in 1957-58 he made his Thomas Cup debut as Thailand defeated India 8-1 to capture the Asian Zone winning berth, albeit that Thailand lost their inter-zone final 8-1 against newcomers Indonesia in Singapore.

The following week unseeded Charoen claimed his first international successes when he captured the men’s singles and doubles in the All-Malayan Badminton Championships in Penang, titles he won again in 1959 and 1962.

His badminton was able to develop when he went to England’s City of Liverpool College of Commerce to study business management on a private scholarship given by King Bhumibol.

While in England he was able to use his great stamina and skilled smash to win the Glasgow World Invitation in 1959 and again in 1962, when he scored an emphatic 15-5 15-5 win over Ferry Sonneville (later the ninth IBF President and the first Asian in post).

In the same period he also became the first Thai player to contest an All England final but lost twice to Denmark’s Erland Kops in 1960 and 1962.

He was a popular figure during his time in England and the May 1965 issue of The Badminton Gazette records that “another talent of his was that he took to The Twist like a duck to water and when he went on to perform the dance floor would clear and he would give a performance that would bring the house down.”

But Charoen’s playing career was just the start of his involvement in badminton. By 1980 he was Secretary General of a reformed Thailand Badminton Association, having already been elected to the IBF Council and a place on the Development Commission, with responsibility for Asia and Oceania. He went on to serve on the publicity committee as well.

More responsibilities followed and by 1990 he was elected IBF Vice President.

The accolades came too with a deserved place in the IBF Hall of Fame in 2000 and an elevation to Honorary Life Vice President by 2005. In the same year in Thailand, Charoen received the most prestigious honour from His Majesty the King when he was given the National Outstanding Achievement Award in the Promotion of International Recognition category.

His work didn’t just involve committees. You couldn’t keep a man with his background too far from the courts so it was no surprise that he was a member of the referees’ panel and a deputy referee and technical delegate at the Olympics.

There were further honours, too. He received the Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand followed by the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant for services to badminton. He was later appointed Companion of both Orders.

In between his playing and administrative career Charoen found time to chronicle the game’s development.

In the 1980s his book Let’s Play Badminton went into two editions and in March 2015 he brought out his latest work Pursuit of Excellence, which was launched at Thailand’s Week of Book Festival.

He said: “A great many people took it that the latest book was my autobiography, but as a matter of fact, I intended it to be a Badminton Chronicle, narrating over 60 years of my life devoted to badminton. Indeed, my badminton life, at times, seems like a fairy tale.”

Away from badminton, he was managing director of a multi-national flowers and fragrances company. His home in Bangkok is next door to the Hall of Fame which was financed by Princess Sudasiri Sobha and it houses rackets used by contemporaries like Kops and China’s Han Jian.

He has written other books, writes newspaper columns, even translated John Grisham’s best seller The Firm, and his badminton book Badminton – A Simple Way has been translated into seven languages

He has two sons and a daughter who are international stars – but not in badminton. Jetrin and Jirayuth are pop stars while Jan was a top Thai model.

Charoen would say he owes a lot to badminton but the sport is indebted to him for what he has brought to the game and its development. As the President of the BA of Thailand for 11 years (five terms) he has brought Thai badminton into the forefront at world level. Thailand captured two gold medals at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore and its players brought Thailand back to the elite group of the Sudirman Cup in 2010 with their first bronze medal.

He has taken particular satisfaction in seeing the development of Ratchanok Intanon from a three-times World Junior Champion to her subsequent triumph in becoming women’s singles gold medallist at the 2013 World Championships.

In his chapter in International Badminton – The First 75 Years, Wattanasin sums up his sport and philosophy perfectly: “The love of badminton gives people a passport to a world with a magical feeling – an enchanting game of racket and shuttlecock which attracts special people everywhere who have this feeling in their hearts.”

Sources:

Encyclopaedia of Badminton by Pat Davis

BWF archives

Internatonal Badminton – the first 75 years

The Badminton Gazette

 -- By William Kings

Charoen the talented thailander - badminton gazette march 1961 Charoen with partner t khadjadhai after northern cships doubles win - bg dec 1960 Solo shot of charoen wattanasin (thai) taken at 1992 ibf agm Charoen wattanasin and his bride in bangkok - badminton gazette may 1965 Charoen wattanasin during his playing days - badminton gazette november 1960