The Million Kroner Bet

The chance to win a million of any European currency is enough to get the heart rate of any mere mortal pumping. Even by Danish standards, a million of their […]

The chance to win a million of any European currency is enough to get the heart rate of any mere mortal pumping. Even by Danish standards, a million of their hard-earned Kroner, which amounts to circa 134,000 Euro, is a sizeable sum and a figure like that would be sure to motivate any player if it were on offer as an incentive to qualify for next year’s in Copenhagen.

By Mark Phelan. Photos (archives) : Badmintonphoto and Rights Reserved

This precise offer is what Michael Kjeldsen, head of Denmark’s International Badminton Academy, offered his prize student as an incentive to go and qualify for the 2014 Worlds and that student is none other than former world number 5 Joachim Persson.

Persson was in action this week at the Belgian International, where he made the semi-final, before going down to Indonesia’s Andre Kurniawan Tedjono but the Dane is upbeat about his progression and more so his chances of claiming the prize.

This time last year I struggled to even play two matches in a day at International Challenge level on the circuit,” said Persson.  “Now I have had 8 months solid training without setback or injury and multiple matches is not a problem for me anymore.

When asked about the once off bet, Persson was equally upbeat about his chances in claiming the windfall.

Even before the offer from Michael, the Worlds was my goal. To play a Worlds in Copenhagen would be any Danish player’s goal but now with this offer, it has motivated me even more but I am not foolish enough to think it will be easy with such great players like Jan, Viktor and Hans Kristian ahead of me and also at the national centre.

It is indeed a big ask for the veteran Dane as to claim the bet he would need to somehow displace one of the three national team players and finish at least third highest in the world ranking list at close of qualification and on top of that he would need to be inside the world’s top 25 to claim a World Championship spot.

These are the criteria and this is what I have to do to qualify and win the bet. That does not mean that the Danish coaches will pick me, of course, as I am outside of the national centre these days, but meeting the qualification criteria is all I need to do to claim the prize.”

Joachim Persson currently sits 58th in the latest world ranking list with Viktor Axelsen at 21, Hans Kristian Vittinghus at 18 and Jan O Jorgensen the highest Dane at number 9 this week.

When he heard about the bet, Vittinghus  did not believe it: “This is crazyWell, what I can say is I’m pretty sure he will have to make top 24 to qualify as I can’t imagine both me and Viktor to be out come May. To me that’s not realistic with his current form, but I believe Joachim has the potential to be ranked a lot higher than he is right now.

If he will be as high as 24 in May it’s hard to say, but I obviously don’t believe he will be higher ranked than myself. All of this being said, I wouldn’t risk losing such a bet of 1 million to Joachim – he is crazy enough to make it happen for him,” added Vittinghus.

About Mark Phelan