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Great Dane puts the golden bite on Super Dan

China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-29 07:41

Axelsen realizes childhood dream by vanquishing legendary Lin

GLASGOW - Denmark's Viktor Axelsen realized his childhood dream by beating the legendary Lin Dan in straight games to claim the men's singles gold at the Badminton World Championships on Sunday.

At 33, Lin was going for a record sixth title, but he had to settle for silver after a 20-22, 16-21 defeat. He had a game point at 20-19 up in the first game, but always trailed in the second.

Axelsen is the third Dane to claim the men's singles crown. Flemming Delfs won the inaugural 1977 title and Peter Rasmussen was a winner, also in Glasgow, 20 years ago.

"It was my dream to be in a world final," said Axelsen, the 2014 world and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist. "But it is unbelievable to beat Lin Dan. I have been watching him for years.

"Today, I maybe appeared confident, but inside I was shaking like a little child."

At the end of the match, the 23-year-old Axelsen clutched his head in disbelief and then collapsed onto the court.

For Lin, it was a tough loss.

"If I had won the first game, the result might have been different," said the Chinese star. "But in the second, all the pressure was on me."

As to his future, Lin was unclear.

"I don't have time to think," he said. "I go home tomorrow as the Chinese National Games have already started.

"Then I play in the Japan Open. After that, I have no plans. It will be difficult to play in the world championships at 34."

For Axelsen, who defeated Olympic champion Chen Long in the semifinals, the future could not be brighter.

"It is great to know that all the hard work has paid off," said the 6-foot-4 Dane.

"Chen Long and Lin Dan have won all the major championships and they inspire me. But I remain humble. Some people say I am too tall for singles, but I know I can improve. Today I am just so happy."

In a superb women's singles final, Nozomi Okuhara became the first Japanese to win a world gold singles medal with a stunning 21-19, 20-22, 22-20 victory over India's Pusarla V Sindhu.

The match lasted 110 minutes - easily the longest of the championships - and neither player could have giv-en more. In the end, the tenacious Okuhara came out on top.

"I hope this win will inspire others," said the diminutive 22-year-old.

"The third game was so close and I was absolutely exhausted. But I decided to try to enjoy it and I could see that my opponent was very tired and was struggling. My attitude got me through."

The second game ended with the rally of the match, lasting over 50 shots, and it was Sindhu who won it with a great drop-shot.

But the Indian started to irritate both the crowd and the umpire by going for the towel and taking too much time between shots.

Eventually, at 12-12 in the third, she was given a warning.

Okuhara lost to Sindhu in the semifinals of the Olympic Games last year in Rio and was focused on revenge.

"I learned a lot from that match," she reflected. "Today I changed my strategy and tried to keep her moving more. My fans were also great. The atmosphere was amazing."

The only other Japanese gold at a world championships came from Etsuko Toganoo and Emiko Ueno in the women's doubles at the very first 1977 edition of the event.

Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota had a chance to repeat that success, but they had to settle for silver after losing 18-21, 21-17, 15-21 in the final to China's Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan.

China collected a second gold in the men's doubles with Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan scoring a comfortable 21-10, 21-17 win over the relatively new and unseeded Indonesian pair, Mohammad Ahsan and Rian Agung Saputro.

But Indonesia did claim a title, Olympic champions Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir, snatching the mixed doubles from Chinese top seeds Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen.

Agence France-presse

 Great Dane puts the golden bite on Super Dan

Denmark's Viktor Axelsen reacts after beating five-time winner Lin Dan on Sunday to take the men's singles gold at the World Badminton Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.Jane Barlow / Pa Via Ap

(China Daily 08/29/2017 page22)

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