Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen expects to see China’s Chen in next game

(People's Daily Online) 10:31, August 09, 2021

Danish shuttler Viktor Axelsen won Olympic gold on August 2 after defeating Chinese champion Chen Long in the men’s singles badminton final. After the competition, Chen gave his rival a thumbs-up as a show of respect, congratulated him and wished him good health in the next chapter of his career. The two athletes also exchanged shirts to show their respect for each other.

Chinese netizens congratulated Axelsen and hailed both as respected athletes.

Viktor Axelsen of Denmark reacts after winning the Tokyo Olympics badminton men's singles gold medal on Aug. 2, 2021. (Xinhua/Xue Yubin)

After finally beating his “old rival,” Axelsen was seen bursting into tears on the badminton court. “Chen has been a major inspiration for my badminton career,” he said. “Your performance in the Games has been seen by all, and no matter you win or lose, you are always the idol of so many badminton fans. I should learn from you, and let’s expect the next game between us,” he wrote.

A fan of Chinese culture, Axelsen said he has been a fan of Lin Dan, the double Olympic champion, since his childhood. He has also given himself a Chinese name – “An Sai Long.” An is a homonym for Axelsen’s family name, while “long” means “dragon” in Chinese.

Zhang Jun, head coach of the Chinese badminton doubles, revealed that Chen suffered two large bleeding blisters on his feet that affected his mobility on the court, but Chen himself never spoke about this.

Chen Long of China competes against Viktor Axelsen in the Tokyo Olympics badminton men's singles gold medal final match in Tokyo, Aug. 2, 2021. (Xinhua/Xue Yubin)

Chen has experienced ups and downs over the past five years since winning gold at the Rio Olympic Games 2016. On top of suffering various injuries, he has also been struggling to keep up with all the new and younger players, which has not been easy for him. “I doubted myself sometimes, but my teammates and coach kept encouraging me, making me believe that I can do it,” he recalled.

With China claiming two gold and four silver medals in badminton at the Tokyo Olympic Games, Chen said the young players have inspired him, giving him more confidence in the games.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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