Glasgow, United Kingdom | AFP | Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen fulfilled a childhood dream by beating the legendary Lin Dan in straight games to claim the men’s singles gold at the World Championships in Glasgow on Sunday.
At 33, Lin was going for a record sixth title, but he had to settle for second-best after a 20-22, 16-21 defeat. He had a game point at 20-19 up in the first game, but always trailed in the second.
Axelsen is the third Dane to claim the men’s singles crown. Flemming Delfs won the inaugural 1977 title and Peter Rasmussen was a winner, also in Glasgow, 20 years ago.
“It was my dream to be in a world final,” said Axelsen, the 2014 world and 2016 Olympic bronze medallist. “But it is unbelievable to beat Lin Dan. I have been watching him for years.
“Today, I maybe appeared confident, but inside I was shaking like a little child.”
At the end of the match, the 23-year-old Axelsen clutched his head in disbelief and then collapsed onto the court.
For Lin, it was a tough defeat.
“If I had won the first game, the result might have been different,” said the Chinese star. “But in the second, all the pressure was on me.”
As to his future, he was unclear.
“I don’t have time to think,” he said. “I go home tomorrow and the Chinese National Games start the day after.
“Then I play in the Japan Open. After that, I have no plans. It will be difficult to play in the World Championships at 34.”
For Axelsen, who defeated Olympic champion Chen Long in the semi-finals, the future could not be brighter.