Axelsen loses No. 1 spot, Olympics gold under threat too


PETALING JAYA: Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen had been world No. 1 for more than two years but he has just relinquished the position to China’s resurgent Shi Yuqi.

Now, Shi Yuqi is also threatening to take away the Olympics men’s singles gold from the Dane in Paris next month.

The Chinese has overtaken Axelsen at the top of the rankings list after capturing his fourth individual title of the year at the Indonesian Open on Sunday.

The 28-year-old has been in top form recently and also won the Singapore Open last week to go with his Indian and French Open crowns earlier in the year. Yuqi is now among of the favourites to wrest the gold from Axelsen in the Olympics.

The Dane, who captured the title in the 2021 Tokyo edition, has struggled with fitness issues this year.

He won his sole title of the year at the Malaysian Masters last month but withdrew from his semi-final match in the Singapore meet against another Chinese Li Shifeng and skipped the Indonesian Open due to an ankle issue.

The 30-year-old did not reach any other finals this year and has paid the price by losing his top ranking.

Axelsen had first reached No. 1 in the world in September in 2017 before relinquishing the top spot to Japan’s Kento Momota a year later.

The former two-time world champion then reclaimed the top ranking in the beginning of 2022 and held on to his position for more than 100 weeks.

Axelsen will not want to give up his Olympic crown without a fight, despite having lost his top spot.

The Dane has proved doubters wrong before and will relish doing it again in the biggest stage of all.

Axelsen, though, will need to do it the hard way with Yuqi, fellow Dane and world No. 4 Anders Antonsen, Thailand’s reigning world champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn, Indonesia’s All-England champion Jonatan Christie, Shifeng and Malaysia’s world No. 8 Lee Zii Jia all capable of spoiling his party.

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Badminton , Viktor Axelsen , Paris Olympics

   

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