A gold medal, conceivably, which is just one win away.
But this has already been a dreamlike campaign for the world No.11 pair, who weren’t among the pre-tournament favourites. On three consecutive days they took out higher-ranked pairs, and in beating world No.3 Liang Wei Keng/Wang Chang in the semifinals on Saturday, they hit the biggest moment of their careers.
It has been ten years since a Danish men’s doubles pair was in the final – Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen at Guangzhou in 2013. It has been two decades since a Danish pair – Lars Paaske/Jonas Rasmussen – won the title. Astrup and Anders Rasmussen will be aware of history when they take the court on Sunday.
For today the celebrations were unrestrained. The Chinese were breathing down their necks at the end of a tense third game, and when the final point was won, 17-21 21-18 21-19, Rasmussen ran around like a man possessed. Astrup had fallen to the floor even as the stadium erupted in thunderous applause.
What had made the difference? Liang’s nerves were evident as he made several mistakes; Wang Chang was calmer. As they had done against India’s Rankireddy/Shetty in the quarterfinals, Astrup and Rasmussen dominated the front court, winning many of the short exchanges.
But, as Rasmussen explained, it wasn’t really about tactics at all; just about feeding off the crowd’s energy.
“They were much better than us in the first one and a half games. Then we really didn’t have anything to lose, so it was the arena and the atmosphere that got us going, and got us believing that we could fight back. We were just fighting,” said Rasmussen.
“I really haven’t dared to dream about this. We were fighting all the way, we were struggling all through the first game. Somehow we got back into the game. Thanks to the coaches, the spectators, each other, I don’t know how we pulled it off.”
“Doing it in Copenhagen, on home soil, it couldn’t be written in the stars,” said his partner.
On the final point, “It just exploded in the arena and in our minds, and it was the ticking bombs going off on court, and we just let all the energy go. I was lying on the floor and listening to 10,000 Danish people screaming ‘Kim and Anders’.”