Sunday 27 August 2017
History was made on finals day at the TOTAL BWF World Championships as Viktor Axelsen became the first European player to win men’s singles gold in 20 years.
Back then, it was fellow Dane Peter Rasmussen who took the world title - the championships also held in Glasgow that year - with the comparisons to that 1997 success continuing with Axelsen also battling for gold against a Chinese opponent.
It was five-time world champion Lin Dan who Axelsen faced across the net, with the 33-year-old chasing one final world title before he is expected to bow out from the sport.
Both players were greeted by a deafening roar as they emerged onto court, this the blue-riband match of this year’s championships, and the first game followed in style befitting that of the occasion.
It was a breathless affair as Lin took the early lead, but Axelsen - ten years his junior - matched his every point as both players struggled to open up a healthy gap.
But with the scores locked at 20-20, it was the Dane who took the advantage and the lead.
He took that control forward into the second game, marching his way to the title with little response from two-time Olympic champion Lin, throwing his arms aloft as the last shuttle landed - the scoreboard reading 22-20 21-16.
“I’m feeling overwhelmed, happy, I’m feeling everything positive that you can feel right now,” said Axelsen, who also defeated Olympic and reigning world champion Chen Long in the semi-finals.
“I’m out of words, I’m simply just happy.
“It was really important for me to do it in two sets, I felt a bit tired and of course it’s mentally tiring.
“I just kept hammering away and after the first game it was really close, but I knew I had a chance. I grabbed and now I’m just happy and tired.
“It’s so important, it’s one of my biggest dreams coming true. It’s just unbelievable.”
It was the women’s singles final, however, which proved to be most dramatic, with Nozomi Okuhara and Pusarla V. Sindhu taking their quest for gold right down to the wire.
In a 110-minute epic - the longest match of the entire tournament - it was Okuhara who took the first game, having defeated reigning champion Carolina Marin on her way to the final.
But Sindhu - world bronze medallist in 2013 and 2014 - bounced back in the second to level the scores, winning an emphatic 73-shot rally to take the final point.
The finest badminton was on display in the deciding game, both players visibly exhausted as they battled to get over the line, but in the end it was Okuhara who triumphed 21-19 20-22 22-20.
Olympic champions Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir won their second world title in a tight encounter with China’s Chen Qingchen and Zheng Siwei - four years after first winning world gold.
The Indonesian pair came from behind to win, finding their form in the second game to triumph 15-21 21-16 21-15.
The first match of the day saw Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan of China face Japan’s Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota in the women’s doubles final, with the Chinese duo emerging victorious.
They won 21-18 17-21 21-15 to win gold, their first medal on the world stage, with Chen going for her second title of the day in the mixed doubles final.
And there was further success for China in the men’s doubles as Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan prevailed over Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan and Rian Agung Saputro - the only non-seeded finalists.
Liu and Zhang - the latter already a three-time world champion in the mixed doubles - needed just 37 minutes to wrap up their 21-10 21-17 triumph.
Film and article by Sportsbeat.