Since Lin Dan’s retirement in 2020, there’s been a lot of talk about who can take his place as the best badminton player of all time. While numerous talents have attempted to replicate the GOAT’s achievements, barely any player has come close. If I had to single out one name in the men’s singles division who can take Lin Dan’s place in the future, it’d be the Danish superstar Viktor Axelsen!
Viktor Axelsen is a three-time European Champion and two-time Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Champion. He holds 16 World Tour titles, including two reigns as All England champion. He holds four Superseries titles, one Grand Prix title, and four International Challenge titles. Axelsen is also an Olympic bronze medalist, later winning gold at the 2020 Olympics. As he defeated Lin Dan for the World Championship in 2017, Axelsen climbed to the top of the BWF rankings. After beating the GOAT, Axelsen held the World Number One position for 50 consecutive weeks. He also made history during his junior career by being the first European to bag the World Junior Championships. As of October 2022, Axelsen has chalked up 468 career wins — one of the highest of any Danish men’s singles badminton player in history.
Viktor Axelsen has made waves throughout his career. His accomplishments position him as the most likely candidate to be one of badminton’s greats. Join me and be astonished as we look at the Danish superstar’s achievements in badminton!
Viktor Axelsen was born on January 4, 1994, in Odense, Denmark. Born to Henrik Axelsen and Gitte Lundager, Viktor Axelsen was an active child who grew up playing soccer. Under the influence of his father, Viktor took to badminton, being introduced to the game as early as six.
The young Axelsen played badminton in small local courts before his father took him to a legit badminton club. After his eighth birthday, Viktor’s father enrolled him at the local Odense Badminton Club. Here, the young badminton player honed his skills and got his early taste of competitive badminton.
By the time he turned ten, Viktor Axelsen had already won several local tournaments. For this reason, the Odense Badminton Club nominated Viktor as Player of the Year.
It wasn’t long before he would catch the eye of the Danish National Badminton Team. In his early teens, he became one of the national team’s top draft picks. From here, he embarked on his junior badminton career.
Viktor Axelsen’s Junior Badminton Career and Titles
Viktor Axelsen made his junior debut at the 2009 Denmark Open Superseries in his hometown, Odense. At the tournament, he competed in the doubles event alongside Steffen Rasmussen. The young pair bowed out early after the round of 16 stages, losing to Rasmus Nielsen and Michael Them in a close three-game match.
Heading into 2010, Axelsen was hungry for a place on the podium. That’s exactly what he got at the 2010 Swedish International when he chalked up an impressive runner-up finish in the men’s singles event.
Three months later, Axelsen competed at the 2010 BWF World Junior Championships in Guadalajara, Mexico. At the tournament, he competed in the boy’s singles event. Like the 2010 Swedish International, Viktor advanced to the finals. Awaiting him in the final was South Korea’s Kang Ji-Wook.
Viktor Axelsen dominated the entire match. After the 27th minute, Axelsen won the second game 21-10 to win the World Junior Championships.
According to Axelsen, the victory was his most memorable sporting achievement. Why wouldn’t it be? Not only did he win his first title; but he also became the first European to win the World Junior Championships!
Confident because of his World Junior Championship title victory, Axelsen competed at the 2010 Cyprus International. In the boys’ doubles event, he made it to the finals to face France’s Simon Maunoury. Winning in straight sets, he earned his second title as a junior badminton player.
2011 was a successful year for the young Viktor Axelsen. He kicked off his 2011 campaign by playing at the Swedish International. Like his first outing at the event, Axelsen placed second after beating his compatriot Kestutis Nevickas in the semifinals. His loss in the finals came at the hands of an in-form Pablo Abian.
The two young shuttlers snagged one game apiece, forcing the match into a third game. In the 39th minute, Axelsen won the third game to win the match and the 2011 European Junior Championships.
One month later, Axelsen played at the 2011 Spanish Open, dominating the men’s singles event. Upon reaching the finals, Axelsen came face to face with a player he had lost to months prior — Pablo Abian.
Abian easily defeated Axelsen in the first game, but Axelsen rallied from behind to win the second game, forcing the match into a third game.
With the game hanging in the balance, Axelsen pulled out all the stops to prevent his Spanish opponent from getting the better of him again. In the end, Axelsen won the third game 21-9 to avenge his loss to Abian and win a Spanish Open title.
Early Senior Titles: Two More International Series Titles and the Swiss Open
Viktor Axelsen made his senior debut in 2012. In his debut year, his best result was at the French Open. At the 2012 French Open, Axelsen finished in the runner-up position after defeating Japan’s Kenichi Tago in the semis.
In mid-2013, Viktor Axelsen won two impressive title victories in the BWF International Challenge circuit. He competed in the men’s singles event of the 2013 Dutch International and advanced to the finals. In the finals, he faced and defeated Eric Pang in straight sets to win his third International Series title.
Axelsen followed up his impressive International Series title victory less than a month later at the 2013 Denmark International. Breezing through the men’s singles event, Axelsen advanced to the finals to face Finland’s Ville Lang. Axelsen won the match easily, bringing his International Series title count to four.
In 2014, Viktor Axelsen kicked off the year with outings in several tournaments, including his first All England. Despite losing early at the All England, Axelsen had his sights set on another title. His opportunity at another title victory came two days later at the Swiss Open.
At the 2014 Swiss Open, Axelsen made it to the finals where China’s Tian Houwei was waiting for him. The match between the two shuttlers was fierce, lasting three games played over an hour. The third game saw Houwei and Axelen tied at 22 points each. In the 68th minute, Axelsen widened the gap to win the third game 25-23. By winning the match, Axelsen bagged his first Grand Prix title!
Axelsen’s European Championship Record
Axelsen has been a mainstay at the European Championships since he debuted in 2012. He has been at the tournament seven times. He was on the podium in each tournament, with three of his performances resulting in title victories.
When Axelsen made his European Championship debut in 2012, he progressed to the quarterfinals and defeated Germany’s player, Dieter Domke. Unfortunately, he lost to Henri Hurskainen in the semis, meaning he had to settle for bronze.
Axelsen finished in third place again at the 2014 European Championships when he lost to Jan O Jorgensen in the semis. However, Axelsen bounced back wonderfully in 2016 when he defeated Jorgensen at the 2016 European Championships to win the title. The victory gave Axelsen his first European Championship title.
Axelsen reclaimed his European Championship title a year later. At the 2018 European Championships, Axelsen advanced to the finals to face England’s Rajiv Ouseph. Defeating Ouseph in straight sets, he bagged his second European Championship title.
In 2021, Axelsen competed in his sixth European Championship. At the 2021 European Championships, he advanced to the finals where he faced Anders Antonsen. Unfortunately, he lost in a walkover, giving his compatriot the title.
Axelsen redeemed himself a year after the 2021 European Championships. At the 2022 European Championships, he faced Antonsen again in the final of the men’s singles event.
In the finals match, Axelsen dominated his compatriot in straight sets. Avenging his loss, he won his third European Championship title.
Viktor Axelsen at the World Championships
Viktor Axelsen has competed in the BWF World Championships several times during his career. He was on the podium three times, winning the World Championships twice.
In 2014, Axelsen competed at the BWF World Championships for the first time. There, he advanced past the quarterfinals after defeating Taiwan’s Chou Tien Chen. When he got to the semis, Axelsen faced the Malaysian legend, Lee Chong Wei.
The Malaysian legend made short work of him after winning in straight sets, so Axelsen had to settle for bronze.
Axelsen failed to land a spot on the podium at the 2015 BWF World Championships. Due to his preparations for the 2016 Olympics, he didn’t compete at the 2016 edition of the World Championships.
Axelsen returned at the 2017 BWF World Championships. At the tournament, he advanced to the finals after easily beating Chen Long in the semis. Awaiting him in the finals was The GOAT, Lin Dan.
In the first game, Viktor Axelsen and Lin Dan tied at 20 each, but Axelsen was able to widen the gap to win the first game. The second game’s outcome was even more decisive, as Axelsen beat Lin Dan 21-16. After the 54th minute, Axelsen defeated The GOAT and won his first World Championship title!
Axelsen won the World Championship again in 2022. This time, he faced Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn in the finals. In straight sets, Axelsen won the final match to chalk up his second World Championship title victory.
Viktor Axelsen’s Olympic Record
Viktor Axelsen participated in the Olympics twice in his career, debuting in 2016.
The bronze medal match between Viktor Axelsen and Lin Dan was close. In the first game, Axelsen lost 15-21. However, he rallied from behind to win the second game 21-10. With the match forced into a third game, the two shuttlers fought tooth and nail for victory. In the end, Axelsen would get the better of Lin Dan, winning his first Olympic medal.
Axelsen returned for the 2020 Olympics. With his sights set on Olympic gold, he sailed through the men’s singles event, defeating the Guatemalan sensation Kevin Cordon in the semis. In the finals, Axelsen came face to face with one of China’s top players, Chen Long.
Axelsen was dominant throughout the match. Beating Chen Long in straight sets, Axelsen had finally done it — he won an Olympic gold medal.
Axelsen is one of Yonex’s sponsored players. In many of his matches, Axelsen uses the well-balanced, though slightly head-heavy Arcsaber 11. Recently though, Axelsen has been wielding the Astrox 100zz.
Besides his achievements, Viktor Axelsen’s multilingual background impresses many fans. Axelsen isn’t just a Danish and English speaker; he is also fluent in Mandarin. This officially makes him just one language shy of being a polyglot!
He’s also a proud father. Axelsen has two daughters, Vega Rohde and Aya Rohde. In an interview with Olympics.com, Axelsen talked about how his girlfriend and daughters were his primary motivators.
Viktor Axelsen: A Danish Legend in the Making
The Danish superstar has made waves in the men’s singles division, winning almost every major title a singles badminton player can win. The sky’s the limit for Viktor Axelsen, and his past accomplishments foreshadow a future spot among the sport’s greatest players.
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