REUTERS - Thai shuttler Bodin Issara, banned for two years for physically assaulting former doubles partner Maneepong Jongjit, has asked authorities to cut his opponent's suspension for the on-court brawl so that he can play in the World Championships.
Bodin was banned for two years on Saturday by the Badminton Association of Thailand (BAT) after the ugly scrap during the men's doubles final at the Canada Open earlier this month, while Maneepong was hit with a three month ban for provocation.
Maneepong's BAT suspension means he will miss the World Championship which starts in Guangzhou on Thursday and both players could yet face further penalties with an investigation by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) still ongoing.
In a Facebook message, the 22-year-old Bodin took responsibility for the incident and said Maneepong should not be forced to miss such a prestigious event.
"As a badminton player, I understand how important the World Championships is for Maneepong," Bodin was quoted as saying by The Nation newspaper on Tuesday.
"He has worked hard to gain enough rankings points to qualify. But he is going to lose the chance to take part in the event because of my actions.
"I am pleading with the BAT to lessen their punishment so that he can represent Thailand in the World Championships. He has earned the chance."
The duo teamed up for Thailand at the London Olympics and were competing on opposite sides for the first time since their split when tensions blew up during the men's doubles contest in Canada.
After Maneepong and his partner Nipitphon Puangpuapech bagged the first game and were changing ends, Maneepong hit Bodin with his racquet following a heated verbal exchange.
Bodin retaliated by chasing Maneepong to a neighbouring court, tackling him to the ground and punching him several times, for which he was disqualified.
"I lost my self-control, which has never happened before. I was the one who started the war of words from across the net. I spoke rudely," Bodin said.
"I should have handled the situation differently. I'm very sorry that my action also caused him misery."
The duo made a public apology and shook hands in Bangkok on Saturday and Maneepong said he would go back to his hometown in Phuket to recover from injuries and regroup mentally.
Bodin's club Granular said their player was feeling depressed after the incident and that they planned to appeal the BAT ban.
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai.; Editing by Patrick Johnston