TOKYO: Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen won Olympic badminton gold yesterday in Tokyo, becoming the first non-Asian man to win the singles title since 1996. World number two Axelsen beat China’s defending champion Chen Long 21-15, 21-12, taking control early and never loosening his grip in a relentless performance.
Axelsen, who won bronze at the 2016 Rio Games, followed in the footsteps of compatriot Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen, the Atlanta Games champion and the last winner from outside Asia. Hoyer-Larsen, now world badminton’s president, was in the arena to watch Axelsen match his achievement.
World number six Chen was bidding to emulate legendary Chinese player Lin Dan in retaining his Olympic title. But Axelsen held his nerve with the prize in sight, then broke into disbelieving sobs when Chen hit the final shot long.
World number one Kento Momota exited the competition in the group stage. Indonesia’s Anthony Sinisuka Ginting took bronze, beating gutsy Guatemalan world number 59 Kevin Cordon 21-11, 21-13.
Ginting’s win gave Indonesia two medals on the final day of badminton, after Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu claimed gold in the women’s doubles. It was Indonesia’s first Olympic title in women’s doubles, and the country’s first gold medal of the Tokyo Games. – AFP