PETALING JAYA: Malaysia are not the only ones looking for potential world-beaters in badminton to replace their seniors.
European badminton powerhouse Denmark are no different.
And the top Danish player, Peter Gade-Christensen, is taking matters into his own hands.
The 27-year-old Gade-Christensen arrived in Malaysia yesterday with his group of juniors, who call themselves “Team Attack”.
The team will be here for a two-week stint, which includes training and sparring with players from the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS).
Gade-Christensen has decided to play for Denmark until the 2008 Beijing Olympics and in the next four years, he will also work on the unpolished gems of Danish badminton. He will also work on players to step into the shoes of the top Danish women's singles player, Camilla Martin, who has decided to quit the sport at her home Open next month.
Gade-Christensen’s “Team Attack”, who were formed in 2001, will spar with the BJSS players beginning today.
“I am here with 27 best youth talent from Denmark between the ages of 14 and 19,” said Gade-Christensen.
“They will gain valuable experience from the stint in Malaysia. It is their first visit to an Asian country. They will learn how to cope with playing in the heat and this exposure will be great.”
It was the love for the sport and a hope to see badminton continue to remain as one of the favourite sports in the five-million population Scandinavian country that prompted the world number two to go for another attempt at winning honours in the 2008 Olympics.
At the recent Athens Games, Gade-Christensen was beaten by eventual champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia in the quarter-finals. He was a semi-finalist at the 2000 Sydney Games.
“I was in very good form at the Athens Games. If I had beaten Taufik, I could have gone all the way to win the gold medal. It was a very close match. Taufik played wonderfully and all credit to him,” he said.
“Despite the defeat, I am still motivated to play at the next Games in Beijing. I think it is a privilege to have the burning desire to keep on challenging the other players. I simply love the game.
“And I hope my presence in the next four years will continue to spark the interest among the youngsters in my country. It is important to keep them motivated as well.
“With so many things happening around them, players at this age from 14 to 19 can be easily distracted. The right attention must be given so that these players can take over when I leave after the Beijing Games.”
Gade-Christensen’s first international tournament after the Athens Games is the Danish Open, which is scheduled for Oct 5-10.
“Besides the Beijing Olympics, my other main goal is the World Championships (in United States) next year. I will also want to be a title contender in the other Open tournaments,” he said.
Gade-Christensen and his young charges checked in at the Eastin Hotel here yesterday and soon after headed for the Desa Petaling Hall for a light training session among themselves.