Saturday, August 24, 2019
TEXT BY GAYLE ALLEYNE | BADMINTONPHOTO
That simple candour by Anders Antonsen tonight – on the eve of his massive World Championship final against Kento Momota – aptly sums up what’s happened to him this week, and what could possibly happen tomorrow.
In the wake of another inspired performance in St. Jakobshalle – coolly dismantling Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen in their 48-minute semifinal – European badminton’s man-of-the-moment spared some time to absorb the magnitude of his achievement, even as he contemplated his next mission.
Like so many youngsters who began dabbling in the shuttlecock sport at an early age, the 22-year-old had fanciful thoughts of being king of the badminton world someday.
Well someday might be 24 hours away – and oh, Antonsen’s thoughts are far from fanciful anymore!
Danish by country and European by continent, he has stood tall as all but one other men’s singles competitor fell around him at these TOTAL BWF World Championships 2019 in Basel, Switzerland.
“It’s difficult to describe. It’s something that I have dreamed about doing ever since I started to play badminton. It’s amazing,” he said in the aftermath of the 21-15 21-10 win that catapulted him into the biggest match of his still-evolving career.
Guaranteed silver, ambitious Antonsen is ready to rumble for the gold. The one man in his way is dangling the keys to the castle, defending world champion and Japanese darling, Momota, who has been a smooth operator this week.
Challenging the Champ
However, Antonsen will go to bed with the comforting assurance that he can slay the giant, having done so the last time they played in the Indonesia Masters final in January; a lifetime ago in sports. Nonetheless he will channel the memory positively.
“It’s always nice to have won the last encounter so, of course, I will bring that confidence tomorrow and try to enjoy that big occasion – one of the biggest matches that you can experience.”
Additionally, he will have massive support on ‘home ground’, so to speak, being in Europe, and just for good measure his older brother and friends arrived this morning to lend their voices to his fan base.
All Grown Up
Reflecting on the refinement – both on and away from the court – that’s brought the once headband-wearing, long-haired, promising junior to this juncture, he nodded and acknowledged that a lot has changed in the last two years.
“It’s hard work every day – in the gym and in the badminton hall and outside of the sport,” said the No.5 seed.
“I guess I’m just working towards being a grown man and more mature in every decision I make, off and on court.”
Antonsen has certainly made some great decisions on court this week.
Question is – can he continue that trend tomorrow?