Feature | Badminton

Anders Antonsen hopes to follow Viktor Axelsen's path to number one

Young Danish shuttler makes the most of training with the Rio 2016 bronze medallist as he aims to reach the "absolute top".

By Sanjeev Palar ·

When the COVID-19 pandemic brought badminton and sport to a halt, Anders Antonsen found himself in third place in the qualification rankings for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The Dane enjoyed an excellent 2019 including reaching the final of the World Championships.

The rankings show just how much progress the 23-year-old has made but, speaking exclusively to Olympic Channel, Antonsen made clear that he has bigger aspirations.

"My goal is not to stop at number three. I want to reach the absolute top." - Anders Antonsen

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Stepping out of Axelsen's shadow

Viktor Axelsen has led Denmark's charge on the men's singles front in recent years with bronze at Rio 2016 and the world title in 2017.

The compatriots train together regularly with Antonsen, three years Axelsen's junior, grateful for the impact it has had on his game.

"I see Viktor as a really important piece in my development, actually, because we practise together almost every day. He's a phenomenal badminton player and he has some great, great skills.

"We both have the same goals so sometimes we are rivals. But at the same time we are also from the same nation and we practise together and try to help each other to get even better."

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Targeting gold at Tokyo 2020

Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen remains Denmark's only badminton Olympic champion.

The president of the Badminton World Federation defeated China's Dong Jiong to take gold at Atlanta 1996.

Antonsen will make his Games debut in Tokyo where he is determined to fighting for a medal and perhaps emulate Hoyer-Larsen.

"I have my eyes on the prize. I think my potential is there. I'm on the rise. I'm only getting better. So I'm definitely aiming for the gold medal." - Anders Antonsen

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