Different strokes for Chen Long-Axelsen

PETALING JAYA: One is hoping to join Lin Dan as back-to-back Olympics champion while the other is determined to nail his first gold.

China’s Chen Long and Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen will face off in the men’s singles badminton final today in what has been an extraordinary journey for both of them.

The lanky 32-year-old Chen Long has not competed in any tournaments for 16 months but in Tokyo the experienced player showed that he has not lost his guile, trickery and quiet confidence as he grew in strength in his matches.

He played with much determination and calmness to crush Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting 21-16, 21-11 in 56 minutes yesterday.

“I’m very happy to get into the final as that is the dream stage for all athletes – to be in the Olympics final,” said Chen Long on the Bad-minton World Federation website.

Axelsen’s path to the Olympics has been strewn with challenges too. The former world champion underwent two ankle surgeries in 2018 and 2020 and was tested positive for Covid-19 which saw him conceding a walkover in the European Championships final in May – just two months ago.

Yesterday, he ended the gallant run of Kevin Cordon of Guatemala 21-18, 21-11.

“I was so tense. I wanted it so badly that I couldn’t even enjoy the match,” said Axelsen, who is hoping to be the second Dane to win the gold after Poul-Erik Hoyer (1996 Atlanta).


Men’s singles

Final: ViktorAxelsen (Den) vs Chen Long (Chn) – 7.50pm.

Bronze-medal playoff: Kevin Cordon (Gua) vs Anthony Ginting (Ina) – 7pm.

Women’s doubles

Final: Greysia Polii-Rahayu Apriyani (Ina) vs Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan (Chn) – 12.50pm.

Bronze-medal playoff: Lee So-hee-Shin Seung-chan (Kor) vs Kim So-yeongKong Hee-yong (Kor) – 12pm.