NANNA BROSOLAT JENSEN – Emerging from the Shadows

As Denmark and Europe justifiably revel in the success of their queen of the courts, Tine Rasmussen, one can be somewhat forgiven for neglecting to recognise that not far behind […]
As Denmark and Europe justifiably revel in the success of their queen of the courts, Tine Rasmussen, one can be somewhat forgiven for neglecting to recognise that not far behind stands a young lady applying her trade and working to emulate the success of her more illustrious team mate. Nanna Brosolat Jensen is that player. With high hopes and ambitions as she strives to prove to the world that Denmark is by no means just a ‘one trick pony’
By Mark Phelan Photos: badmintonphoto.com (archive)
Aalborg’s Elite : Nanna Brosolat, as she is known, was born on 2nd January 1984 in Alborg Denmark. Alborg is located in Northern Jutland and is situated over 400km from Denmark’s economic and badminton capital Copenhagen. Over the years the region around Aalborg has produced many top class badminton players, the most famous being the legendary Peter Gade and the 1999 world ladies’ singles bronze medallist Mette Sorensen who, to this day still practise’s and spars with Nanna when she gets to visit her  home town.
Nanna is the youngest of three and grew up with her sister Line and brother Lasse at home in Aalborg. Nanna’s parents Torben and Kirsten where keen badminton players and at the age of six they introduced their youngest daughter to the sport by bringing her to the local hall to play for her local club Lindholm Badminton Club.
“I remember my parents played every Friday evening with some friends. I used to go with them on a Friday evening and I really enjoyed doing that. I use to play when my parents had finished playing and were in the cafeteria chatting with their friends. After a while I started to play with and against my parents and people started to notice that I was pretty good and better than the other kids around me ” Nanna says recalling those early years.
The young apprentice: At the age of 14 Nanna entered the Danish training centre in Aalborg under the stewardship of Kenneth Larsen. Larsen at that point was head coach of the Danish squad so to be invited to join the Academy was a not only daunting but an altogether exciting prospect for a young Jensen. Nanna spent 7 years under the tuition of Larsen between the years 1998 to 2005. In April 2003 Nanna achieved European success in winning a silver medal in a close final against Larisa Griga 11-9 11-9. The following year she graduated after studying languages and gained honours in English, German, Spanish and Latin. It was at this point that Jensen decided to focus fully on her badminton career and she turned professional around this time.
“I spent 2 years at the academy in Aalborg under coach Kenneth Larsen. I remember going there and being overwhelmed that firstly I was there and secondly that I was going to be coached by Kenneth Larsen. I was by far the youngest at the academy but I just focused on what I was there to achieve and I just got on with it and mixed my studies with my badminton. Kenneth coached me for many years after I left the academy and I learned so much from him”
With her studies behind her and with her commitment now set firmly on her badminton career Nanna began to display the talents that all in Denmark knew she had. In May 2005 she reached the final of the Croatian and Spanish Internationals at the age of 21 and Jensen herself began to feel that her time to flourish was coming.
“I was beaten in both the Croatian and Spanish International finals in 2005 but I remember coming away from those tournaments feeling that this was maybe the beginning of a successful badminton career. With my studies behind me I was now in a position to concentrate completely on my game at it began to show immediate rewards.”
Asian Experience : In 2005 after her impressive run of form in Croatia and Spain Nanna embarked on her first major Asian trip as she was picked to travel to the Singapore and Malaysian Opens. This was a whole new experience for Nanna as it was her first time to travel to this part of the world and mix it up with all the big stars of the game.
“That trip to Asia was so strange for me as I was travelling with people like Peter Gade and Kenneth Jonassen who were major stars of the professional game. It was even harder to play with those guys sitting in my corner on court as I just felt so inferior to them at that point in my career. I suppose in some ways I was just in awe of them. ” Says Nanna as she recalls that trip to Asia.
Foot Fault: But it was not all plain sailing for Nanna as she began to develop some niggling problems with her feet during her time at the Danish Training Centre in Arhus between 2004 and 2006. It was only with a series on injections and a rigorous and regimented training routine that the problem subsided. In an effort to deal with the problem Nanna had to change her footwear every three months to minimise the pressure on her feet. Jensen moved to Copenhagen in 2006 and remarkably the same problem manifested itself again but this time in the opposite foot. Not only did she have the same problem as before but a recurring Achilles problem just added to the frustration for a young and determined Jensen. During this time Nanna was off the court for 6 months and when she finally made it back on court she had to adapt her training routine to protect her fragile feet.
“This was a frustrating time for me as, when I think of it now, it set me back slightly. Things were going well for me and these feet problems literally stopped me in my tracks. I had to really focus on my training and be very conscious of the type of exercise and training I did. I had to be careful not to over do it on the practise court which was really hard for me as I just love to practise” recalls Jensen.
Golden Girl: In 2007, after her move to Copenhagen, Nanna switched club from Triton Aalborg to Kastrup Magleby. She continued to modify and perfect her training routine to suit her injury and by the spring of 2008 her game was well and truly back on track and as a result she was picked for Denmark in the European Men’s and Women’s team championships. In the women’s competition Denmark were consigned to status as outsiders for the tournament but after beating a fancied German team in the semi finals the Danes had fired a warning shot over the bow of all those who had written them off. In the final The Danes played The Netherlands who were fancied to take gold after beating England earlier in the tournament. Remarkably it was Jensen (photo above right) who claimed gold for Denmark as she beat Karina De Wit in the deciding rubber 21-14, 19-21, 21-16.
Nanna remembers that’s tournament fondly “We prepared for that tournament for a long time as we were determined to show the rest of Europe that us Danish girls were not to be written off. People were all the time saying that we were not strong enough and that just made us even more determined to win. For me to play the last game in the final was so special. It was an amazing moment for me to win and to claim the victory for our team was just so satisfying. I don’t think I will ever forget that moment”
Past, present and future: The past three months has been a rewarding time for Jensen as her game has visually improved and physically she is much stronger. After a successful flurry into the world of Super Series tournaments in Denmark and France (photo left) where she reached the second round she feels she is now ready to take her career to the next level. Jensen who is ever the realist sees next year as being just another step in her career. She wishes to mix the Super Series tour with home EBU events.  Her improvement and dedication has been rewarded as this month she has climbed inside the worlds top 50 for the first time. Jensen wish is to continue to improve and just be the best she can be. Jensen ultimately wants to match the feats of her all time hero  2002 All England Champion Camilla Martin and the current All England Champion and darling of Danish badminton Tine Rasmussen. On tour Nanna feels fortunate to have the company of her close personal friend Camilla Sorensen as they have been friends for many years.
Camilla has been my friend since I don’t know when actually. When we lived in Arhus we spent a lot of time together off the court and now that we are in Copenhagen I don’t get to see her as often as I would like but when we do meet it we just have so much fun together.
Tine is such a nice person to. I love to practise with her and I feel I have a lot in common with her and we can talk about things quiet freely. Watching Tine win the All England’s this year just further solidifies my belief that if you want something and you are prepared to work hard enough for it you can get it. Tine is such a calm person and I really like that because she is always ready to help if  I am a bit insecure about things on or off the court.”
says Nanna.
The remainder of 2008 will see the Dane compete in local EBU events in Ireland and Scotland as well as competing in the Copenhagen Masters at the end of December. 2009 will see Jensen play in Europe initially before hitting the Super Series trail starting with the All Englands and Swiss SS in March. For more information on Nanna Brosolat Jensen just click HERE: http://www.nannabrosolat.dk to visit her website.

About Mark Phelan