Saturday, April 20, 2019
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BWF ARCHIVES
When the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2019 begin in Basel in four months’ time, it will mark a return to Switzerland after nearly a quarter-century.
The World Championships in Lausanne was its ninth edition, and were held immediately after the fourth Sudirman Cup. (The two events were held together until 2001). The physical and mental effort that the back-to-back events took on the players was, of course, immense.
One of those who excelled at the World Championships 1995 was Thomas Lund, who won his second successive mixed doubles gold, and finished silver medallist in men’s doubles.
Lund, now the Secretary General of BWF, recounts his experiences of Lausanne:
How difficult was it to play the World Championships immediately after the Sudirman Cup?
It was two long weeks, so it was quite competitive. It was quite intense in many ways. That’s probably why it was split up later on, because it was intense not only for the players, but the officials and also for the hosts.
I think it was the first big event in Lausanne. Obviously Lausanne had a very nice environment. It was a nice time of year, good food… that being said, the environment doesn’t matter that much because you’re playing and you’re going back and forth between hotel and venue.
You and Marlene Thomsen were the favourites in mixed doubles. You had won 11 tournaments in a row and were unbeaten.
I had some knee injuries, and I also got injured during the mixed doubles final. In that match I got an injury in my thigh, so I couldn’t play 100 per cent in the men’s doubles final with Jon (Holst-Christensen). I wouldn’t say we lost because of that, because we were playing Ricky (Subagja) and Rexy (Mainaky) and they were really good pair, but we weren’t able to play at 100 per cent.
You were unbeaten for almost two years in mixed doubles. What explained that chemistry? Because you had played with different partners, you’d won the previous world title with Sweden’s Catrine Bengtsson and the silver in 1991 with Pernille Dupont.
I first played with Pernille Dupont who got injured and I was at a tournament and I needed a partner and Catrine stepped in and we continued for a year. And because of the Olympics, both Sweden and Denmark thought it was better to find a national partner. I started playing with my now wife. The first tournament we played was Japan, and I injured my knee. So I was out for six months. That was 1994, so I was out from January… I think I managed to get back for the 1994 Thomas Cup. We had a good run and I don’t think we believed we could lose.
You had a tough semifinal, you almost lost to Sweden’s Jan-Eric Antonsson and Astrid Crabo, you were match point down…
I don’t think we believed we could lose. So we had that extra confidence. And players get into that thing where we have a way of playing and that little bit extra that makes you take that last step most of the time. The semifinal was our toughest match.
Would you say your injury was because you played the two doubles events at the same time?
No… not so much the knee injury. But the thigh injury was probably a mix. because I was walking with injuries those days. And that I played two events was probably the reason I got that injury. The was also the reason I didn’t play mixed doubles after that.
That was obviously a tough decision. It was a result of playing two events and having to qualify for the Olympics, and believing we could win a medal.
Your teammate Thomas Stuer-Lauridsen had a serious injury during the tournament.
That was a terrible injury. He had injuries leading up to that. He was playing really well, but probably because of those injuries, suddenly stepped over and hurt himself really bad. He struggled with it for a long time.
Heryanto Arbi won the men’s singles. Your thoughts of him?
He was a fantastic player, one of the players we were close to. He was very social, one of those from Asia who was outgoing and fun to be with.
He had his ability to change tempo within a rally… he had a very defensive, very smooth way of playing, and then he could suddenly (get) very edgy and strong attack. In some ways, he was quite all round, but with an attacking style.
And Ye Zhaoying won the women’s singles…
She was one of the fantastic players of that time. One of those who was there for a while… when you look today, we see more of the Chinese playing for longer. They didn’t play for that long (those days). There was a quick turnaround, so you didn’t get to know them for a long time.
She was one of those we connected with, she was friends with Camilla Martin. Technically she was amazing. She stood out from the others.
That time, China pumped out players in an unbelievable way. Younger ones all the time were pushing their way through. Now it’s more difficult to produce a player for that level, so they tend to stay on.
What are your memories of Lausanne?
It was great, a fantastic tournament. I have only good memories of that tournament.