The Badminton Hall of Fame lists players who have become pioneers and ambassadors of the sport. Names like Betty Uber, Sir George Thomas, and Frank Devlin prove that being the first at something gets a player inducted. Joining them in 1998 was a Danish player who was the first to dominate rankings for years and become the sport’s first millionaire — Morten Frost Hansen.
Morten Frost Hansen was born on April 4, 1958, in Nykøbing Sjælland, Odsherred, Denmark. He is famous for his dominance of European badminton, winning nearly every European Championship at least once. His title victories in the men’s singles events enabled him to stay at the top of the rankings for more than seven years. Fans and pundits often referred to Morten Frost Hansen as the greatest badminton player never to have won a World Championship. He retired from international competition in 1991 and became an inductee into the Danish Sports Hall of Fame in 1997. In 1998, he joined the sport’s third batch of Hall of Fame inductees. After his retirement, he moved on to coaching and eventually became the Badminton Malaysia Association’s technical director for five years.
As a multiple-time Grand Prix winner and European Champion, Morten Frost Hansen was arguably one of the greatest badminton players. Learn more about Morten Frost Hansen and how he earned the moniker “Mr. Badminton” and his spot amongst the sport’s greats!
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Early Life and Junior Career
Morten Frost Hansen’s early experiences with badminton began in 1965. When he turned eight, he began playing badminton and quickly acquired skills by emulating other players. His autodidactic personality and natural athletic ability enabled him to stand out among his fellow young players early.
By 1973, Morten Frost Hansen had already amassed enough experience on the court. He debuted as a junior singles player in 1974 when he competed at various Danish tournaments. In 1975, he reached the finals of the European Junior Championships, putting the European badminton scene on notice.
A Stellar Debut at the Norwegian and USSR International
Morten Frost Hansen made his senior debut in 1977. He began his career as a singles badminton player in two international opens — the Norwegian Open and USSR Open. Not only did Morten Frost Hansen win in these international opens; he also achieved a hat-trick of title wins.
At the 1977 Norwegian International Open, Morten Frost Hansen won the men’s singles event. The victory gave him his first title as a senior player and his first international title.
After the Norwegian Open, Morten Frost Hansen set his sights on the USSR International Open. Unlike in the Norwegian International, Morten Frost competed in two events: the men’s singles and doubles.
Morten Frost Hansen snatched a first-place finish in the men’s singles, defeating other players from Europe. In the men’s doubles, Morten Frost Hansen partnered with fellow Danish shuttler Steen Skovgaard. The pair dominated the event, giving Morten Frost Hansen his third title in his debut year!
The hat-trick title gave Martin Frost Hansen psychological momentum as he bagged titles in several high-profile European tournaments. In 1978, he conquered the Nordic Championships to claim his third singles title. Morten Frost Hansen didn’t stop there as he defended his Nordic Championship title in 1979.
Morten Frost Hansen’s Success in the Early 80s
For many, the 80s were arguably the best years of Morten Frost Hansen’s career. Winning European tournaments left and right, the Danish shuttler experienced international success from 1980 to 1986.
Within the first half of his 80s career, Morten Frost Hansen won more than 15 titles in singles and five titles as a doubles badminton player.
Morten Frost Hansen won his first non-European title in 1979 at the Canada Open in the men’s singles event.
Hansen also bagged the 1980 Nordic Championship title in the men’s singles event. Having won it in 1979, Morten Frost Hansen went on to claim the title four consecutive times after 1980 from 1981 to 1984. He won the Nordic Championships again in 1989.
The Nordic Championships weren’t Hansen’s only favorite hunting ground. He also dominated the Denmark Open, reigning supreme from 1981 to 1986.
In 1982, Morten Frost Hansen won the German Open. Also among Hansen’s 1982 titles were the Scottish Open and the prestigious All England Open Badminton Championship.
1984 was a busy and successful year for Hansen as he bagged titles in Europe and Asia. His first Asian stop was Taipei, Taiwan. Taipei was the venue of the 1984 Chinese Taipei Open.
In the men’s singles event, Morten Frost Hansen reached the finals to face Indonesia’s Hastomo Arbi. Morten Frost Hansen defeated his opponent in straight sets to claim his second Grand Prix title after the Scandinavian Open.
Hansen also competed at the 1984 Japan Open in the men’s singles event where he faced Indonesia’s Liem Swie King. Hansen emerged victorious as he defeated his opponent in two straight games.
He returned to Europe to compete at the 1984 All England. There, he dominated the men’s singles event to reach the finals. Awaiting him in the finals was Indonesia’s Liem Swie King. Hansen made short work of his opponent, winning the 1984 All England. Hansen faced and defeated Liem Swie King again to win the World Grand Prix Finals in Kuala Lumpur.
Success at the All England
“The All England is MY tournament.”
Morten Frost Hansen uttered these exact words. If you look at his track record at the oldest and most prestigious open in badminton, you’ll agree.
Morten Frost Hansen’s first All England was in 1982 where he faced China’s Luan Jin in the finals. Both players performed at their peak, forcing the match into a third game. Hansen emerged victorious, winning the third match 15 to 7.
Hansen faced Luan Jin again at the 1983 All England. Unfortunately, the Danish shuttler came up short in their second meeting, losing in straight sets.
Hansen returned at the 1984 All England Open and faced Liem Swie King in the finals. The match went the distance as both players won one game each.
The third decisive game went the way of Hansen as he beat his Indonesian opponent 15 to 10. The victory gave Morten Frost Hansen his second All England title.
Morten Frost Hansen returned at the 1985 All England. Like his past three outings, he made it to the finals. Hansen faced China’s Zhao Jianhua in a match that went the distance. Unfortunately, Hansen lost, meaning he had to settle for the silver medal.
A series of Grand Prix victories between 1985 and 1986 gave Hansen confidence going into the 1986 All England. Having won the 1986 Scandinavian Open, he dominated the men’s singles event of the 1986 All England to reach the finals.
Standing between him and his third All England title was Malaysia’s Misbun Sidek. Hansen dominated his opponent in two straight sets to win the 1986 All England.
Hansen successfully defended his title at the 1987 All England when he defeated Indonesia’s Icuk Sugiarto. He won the match in straight sets. Of note, Hansen took the second game flawlessly as Sugiarto couldn’t score a single point!
Morten Frost Hansen played again at the 1988 All England and reached the finals as usual. He came up short as he suffered defeat against fellow Dane Ib Frederiksen. Hansen also couldn’t take home the title at the 1989 All England after losing to China’s Yang Yang in the finals.
All in all, Morten Frost Hansen competed in eight All England Open Championships. Winning four of them, he never tasted anything less than a podium finish at the oldest and most prestigious badminton tournament in the world!
European Championship Success
Morten Frost Hansen competed at the European Championships four times. Like at the All England, he never left the podium — winning the championships on two occasions.
Morten Frost Hansen’s first European Championship was in 1980. The tournament took place in Groningen, Netherlands, and featured the best players from Denmark, Russia, England, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Hansen reached the finals of the 1980 European Championships to face fellow Dane Fleming Delfs. The two Danish shuttlers refused to yield, forcing the finals match into a third game. Delfs narrowly escaped defeat at the hands of Hansen, winning 17 to 14.
Hansen returned four years later at the European Championships in Preston, England. At the 1984 European Championships, he reached the finals again. Awaiting him was another Danish shuttler, Jens Peter Nierhoff. Hansen made short work of his fellow Dane, becoming a European Champion for the first time.
In 1986, Morten Frost Hansen qualified for the European Championships again. Upon reaching the finals, he faced Ib Frederiksen. Hansen duplicated his feat from the 1984 European Championships and decisively won the title again.
Hansen’s final European Championship performance came in 1986. At the 1986 European Championships, Hansen battled to the finals to play against England’s Darren Hall. The match was a nail-biter as both players forced the match to a third game. Daren Hall emerged as the victor, handing Hansen defeat and the silver medal.
The World Championships
Morten Frost Hansen was a World Championship contender three times during his career. His first shot at the title was in 1985 in Canada.
At the 1985 World Championships, Hansen reached the finals to face China’s Han Jian. Both players won one game each, forcing the match into a third game. In the third game, Hansen started strong, scoring a quick eight-point lead over Han Jian. Unfortunately, Han Jian rallied to finish strong and win the match and title.
Morten Frost Hansen returned in 1987 hungry for World Championship gold. The Dane breezed through to the finals, with China’s Yang Yang standing between him and World Championship glory. Yang Yang won the third game by a narrow margin. Not only did Hansen lose the finals match but also his shot at the World Championship title.
Returning at the 1991 World Championships, Hansen lost as early as the fourth round. It would be his last appearance before announcing his retirement.
Despite never winning the World Championships, Morten Frost Hansen remained a World Champion in the eyes of his fans.
Retirement and Hall of Fame Inductions
Despite his World Championship loss in 1991, Hansen had already won numerous All England Open titles and two European Championship crowns. He had also already bagged every major Grand Prix title at least once.
After his final performance at the 1991 World Championships, Morten Frost Hansen announced his retirement. He retired as one of the most dominant and consistent badminton players of the 80s.
A series of Hall of Fame inductions followed after Hansen’s retirement. The first came six years after his announcement. In 1997, he joined many Danish sporting masters by being inducted into the Danish Sports Hall of Fame.
A year later, the International Badminton Federation inducted Morten Frost Hansen into the Hall of Fame. By being inducted in 1998, Hansen was among the third batch of Badminton Hall of Fame Inductees.
Europe wasn’t blind to the accomplishments of Morten Frost Hansen either. Recognizing the Dane’s accolades, Badminton Europe inducted Hansen into the Badminton Europe Hall of Fame in 2016.
Morten Frost Hansen: The Epitome of Consistency
Morten Frost Hansen’s career shows how far consistency can take any player. For most of his career, he not only reached the pinnacle of badminton but stayed at the top of the sport for years. Hardly tasting anything less than a podium finish, Hansen exemplified habitual greatness in his craft.
With what Hansen has repeatedly demonstrated on the court, it’s no wonder he earned the name “Mr. Badminton!”
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