Danish world champion aims to extend dream run at home

Home hero: Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen acknowledging the crowd after defeating Japan’s Takuma Ueda yesterday. — Reuters

ODENSE: Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen is born in a town where fairytales are made.

So, it does not come as a surprise that the 23-year-old shuttler has found a happy ending to his childhood dream of becoming a world champion.

But it doesn’t stop there. The Dane plans to weave more magical chapters in his badminton career.

“I’m here for the long run,” said Axelsen, who hails from Odense, the same town as famous children book author Hans Christian Andersen.

“A year ago, I was going through a rough period. And now, I’m a world champion and a world No. 1 player ... who would have thought?” added the modest shuttler who signalled his emergence when he won the 2010 world junior title in Mexico.

Axelsen proved that he has come of age when he defeated five-time world champion Lin Dan of China at the World Championships in Glasgow in August this year.

He also defeated the Chinese ace en route to the bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Last month, Axelsen continued his fine form to beat three-time Olympic Games silver medallists Lee Chong Wei to lift the Japan Open title which saw him move up to the world’s top spot.

And the Dane knows all to well the pressure as the best in the world.

“That’s next challenge – to keep being good at it. It’s not easy but I’ll just have to work harder,” he said.

His immediate goal is to end Denmark’s 17-year wait for a home title at the ongoing Denmark Open. Peter-Gade Christensen, who is his role model, won the title in 2000.

“What a moment it would be to win it in front of my family and friends. I’ve just cleared the first round and there are still tough matches ahead ... I’ve to stay focused.

On Wednesday, Axelsen demolished Japan’s Takuma Ueda 21-8, 21-11 in 32 minutes to set up a second-round meeting against Wei Nan of Hong Kong.

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