Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen to Viktor Axelsen: "This will drive you for the rest of your life"

1996 Olympic champion Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen shares his words of wisdom with Axelsen after the Dane became only the second non- Asian player to clinch the men's singles title at Tokyo 2020.  

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Where do you go when you are on top of the world?

Ask Viktor Axelsen who has just realised his childhood dream of winning gold at the Olympic Games.

The Dane denied Chen Long back-to-back titles when he defeated the Chinese player in the final on Monday (2 August) at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza.

For Axelsen who won bronze at Rio 2016, standing on the top step of the podium is something that he has been hoping for most of his life.

"I've been dreaming of this moment for many, many years. Since I started playing badminton and I started when I was six years old. Now I'm 27 and I'm standing here with a gold medal around my neck, it's a big dream come true." - Viktor Axelsen to Olympics.com

The 2017 world champion was overcome by emotions when he scored the final point of the match to clinch victory 21-15, 21-12.

He crumpled to the floor and burst into tears in a raw display of emotion.

"It was a pure rush of joy when I won the last rally. Every good thing that you can feel just rushes through your body at the exact same time."

"And you can see from my emotion that I didn't know what to do other than tears of joy." - Viktor Axelsen to Olympics.com

Axelsen makes Denmark proud

It was a special moment for not only Axelsen, but also Denmark as it marked only the second time since the sport made its Olympic debut at Barcelona 1992 that the men's singles title has not been won by a player from Asia.

The only other player to have managed to break the Asian stranglehold before him was fellow Dane Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen who clinched the title at Atlanta 1996.

Hoyer-Larsen, who is also the President of the Badminton World Federation, was on hand to participate in the victory ceremony, getting a chance to congratulate Axelsen in person for his accomplishment.

Axelsen shared that before the victory ceremony he had the opportunity to look the former champion in the eye and asked him, "Is there anything that is going to beat this winning feeling at the Olympics?"

To which the 1996 Olympic gold medallist frankly responded, "No!"

"This will drive you for the rest of your life. This is the biggest thing ever" - Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen to Viktor Axelsen

Royal Congratulations

Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, who was unable to travel to Japan for the Games due to being a close contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19, called him after the game and congratulated Axelsen on the win.

"I'm really happy that he followed the game and it really meant a lot to me that he called. It was really motivating to hear his congratulations" - Viktor Axelsen to Olympics.com

Axelsen is determined to remain grounded.

"I don't think the gold medal is going to change my life, I think it's going to give me a lot more opportunities and a lot more exciting things waiting for me."

"For me the most important thing is to remember how I got here, and that's through hard work. I got to stay humble, I got to keep working hard but I'm also allowed to enjoy this win." - Viktor Axelsen to Olympics.com

For now he can't wait to get back to his fiancee and baby daughter in Denmark and is planning on spending some quality time with his family to reset and recover, "I'm going to take a little bit of time off and then I'm going to come back to the court and work towards new goals."

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