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“I’d be lying if I said we haven’t been beaten hard.”
The words came from the Danish national badminton coach Kenneth Jonassen, when last week he stood on the first floor for a major red-white World Cup defeat in Tokyo, Japan.
Because at a historically bad World Cup, where the Danish stars quickly fell apart, it was only Viktor Axelsen who managed to show off Dannebrog on the very big stage, when he convincingly won gold for the second time in his career.
But the superstar’s performance does little to make up for the huge disappointment that Danish badminton fans were left with when they turned on the TV during the WC.
Viktor Axelsen was the only one to bring home a WC medal to Denmark.
Photo: FRANCK ROBICHON
Here they woke up to one disappointing defeat after another, and although the Danish badminton stars are often all-dominant in Europe, it has been a completely, completely different conversation on the international stage in 2022.
Because apart from Viktor Axelsen, who is not even part of the elite milieu in Danish badminton due to his new life in Dubai, there have been minimal triumphs for the rest of the national team players in the Danish badminton federation, who this year receive a whopping 7.4 million kroner in support from Team Denmark.
A development that does not exactly cause cheers for Lars Balle Christensen, who is the latter’s sporting director:
“Viktor’s performance was absolutely fantastic, but then there were others at the WC who may have had a bad start. So there is also something to look at in relation to which outlet they come with. They have been challenged, and this means that they ‘only’ come away with one fantastic performance.’
But is one great performance good enough?
“No, but again you have to look at what it is they bring, because there are people who have been out with injuries for a long time. But it is clear that we have to sit down with the badminton association and find out what we can do differently so that we do not face this problem again.’
Badminton Denmark will receive DKK 7.4 million in support from you this year. So surely better results must also be delivered?
“Yes, but we constantly have that dialogue with the association, whether we can optimize the conditions they have. And then it just so happens that they have been challenged especially this year.’
Mia Blichfeldt got only one match at the WC.
Photo: DIEGO AZUBEL
“But it is clear that when you look at it from above, where there was one medal and the rest average performances, then you may get the impression that we are investing far too much, but it is important to have their prelude with which has not been optimal.’
It has been a long period – and not just for the World Cup – where the results have been lacking. Can you understand if someone thinks it’s a lot of money to shell out for something where there is often only one person who delivers?
“You can say that, but it wasn’t that long ago that, for example, Anders Antonsen got a World Cup silver medal, and Mia Blichfeldt was in the top eight. So they have the players with the potential to deliver top-8 results, which is one of the criteria for collaborating with Team Denmark.’
Should you reconsider your support for the badminton association?
“As we do with all confederations, we have an ongoing dialogue about how the efforts are and how things are, so it is clear that we will continue with that – also with Badminton Denmark.”
What could be the consequence?
“It is something we have a dialogue with the association about, and before I start saying anything, the most respectful thing to do is to discuss it with them in relation to how the collaboration should be.”
Badminton Denmark, in collaboration with Team Denmark, had established a goal of two medal points at the WC.
A goal that was only just fulfilled with Axelsen’s gold triumph, which gives three points.