Thomas Cup to make a Journey to the West!

Denmark beat Indonesia 3-2 in the final of the Thomas Cup to take the trophy to Europe for the first time in its 67-year history. By Raphael Sachetat. Photos: Yohan […]

Denmark beat Indonesia 3-2 in the final of the Thomas Cup to take the trophy to Europe for the first time in its 67-year history.

By Raphael Sachetat. Photos: Yohan Nonotte for Badmintonphoto (live)

One image says it all: Hans-Kristian Vittinghus lifting his hands up in the air, while, on the background, all his team-mates were jumping from the stands to come and congratulate the hero of the day, with tears running from their cheeks. At this very moment, Denmark had entered history by scooping the Thomas Cup – a dream that no other European team had lived before.

The Danes had been waiting since their 1949 loss to Malaysia to finally scoop the famous trophy, in their 9th final. After 8 times on the second spot of the podium, this time, they made it all the way to the top after an incredible final against a team of mostly young Indonesians.

First, there was Viktor Axelsen (pictured right), who put his team on the right track. The new “leader” of the Danish team – he had overcome Jorgensen in the world ranking just a few days before the competition – stayed very much composed during his match against Tommy Sugiarto and beat his opponent 21-17, 21-18.

Then the current World Champions Mohammed Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan put both teams back even when they beat Mads Pieler-Kolding and Mads Conrad Petersen (pictured above) 21-18, 21-13.

The Danes had rested Jan Jorgensen in the semi-final because of a sore hip, but the former European Champion was back on court today, to face a much younger opponent, ranked 23rd in the world. Anthony Ginting is promised a bright future, but lacked experience of that kind of match, and after a good first game, lost 17-21, went down quicker in the second one, 12-21. Denmark was back in the lead, with an uncertain second men’s doubles to come. The heroes of the semi-final, Anders Skaarup Rasmussen and Kim Astrup were just not good enough for Angga Pratama and Ricky Karanda Suwardi (pictured below), who kept the Indonesians’ hopes alive along with their nation’s great tradition in men’s doubles. The Indonesians won 21-15, 21-16, leaving it to Mustofa and Vittinghus to fight for the final point.

Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, once known to be struggling in key moments of tough matches, was a different man on court today. Very calm, keeping his nerves under control, Vittinghus was all over the place. Fast and clever in his vision of the game, he never made it easy for his young opponent, who had not played in any of the crucial matches before as his team-mates had bagged their victories before the 5th match of the ties in the quarter and semi-final. This may have made a difference today: Ihsan Maulana Mustofa (pictured below) simply collapsed under pressure in the second game after losing the first one 15-21. Committing unforced errors, the young Indonesian was the shadow of his usual talented self. Vittinghus was on top of his game and scored the last point for a final 21-15, 21-7 success, sealing the tie.

Hans-Kristian, the “captain” of this young Danish team – received the trophy from another legend – BWF President Pour Erik Hoyer. The Dane had written a heartbreaking post on his Facebook page earlier this month, when he realized that he would not get to go to Rio in spite of his 13th spot in the world ranking as both his compatriots Jorgensen and Axelsen were obvious choices from the Danish Federation – he said so with his usual incredible fair-play spirit. And, as a symbol, it was him who was rewarded with the crucial win and the getting trophy first, being part of  Denmark’s first ever Thomas Cup Champion team.

After getting their gold medals, it was then a big party of smiles, hugs on and off court, with every single Danish player taking some time to take photos individually with the Cup, or with their fans. In the meantime, all over Denmark, people were celebrating the historic win – some claiming that it was Denmark’s best sporting result of the decade so far.  There were images of Jim Laugesen – a former national team player – jumping up and down in the TV studio of Denmark’s TV2 with his fellow commentator, and congratulations coming from all over the world for this amazing performance.

Thoughts of the whole Danish squad, of course, were going to their team-mate Carsten Mogensen, who had to stay home to recover from the ruptured aneurysm that struck him down in Kazan, during the qualification phase of this Thomas Cup. But it was all joy today for the Danes, while the Indonesians could stay proud of their achievement with such a young team.

I absolutely love this day! May it never end! WORLD CHAMPIONS!!!!!” said Vittinghus on his Facebook page.

Final result: Denmark 3, Indonesia 2
MS1:  Viktor Axelsen (DEN) beat Tommy Sugiarto (INA)  21-17, 21-18
MD1:  Mads Conrad-Petersen / Mads Pieler Kolding (DEN) lost to Mohammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan (INA)  18-21, 13-21
MS2:  Jan O Jorgensen (DEN) beat Anthony Ginting (INA)  21-17, 21-12
MD2:  Kim Astrup / Anders Skaarup Rasmussen (DEN) lost to Angga Pratama / Ricky Karanda Suwardi (INA)  16-21, 14-21
MS3:  Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (DEN) beat Ihsan Maulana Mustofa (INA)  21-15, 21-7

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Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.