Highlights of the 2023 World Championships in Copenhagen
THERE were many thrills and spills in the just concluded World Championships in Copenhagen.
History was created as young stars celebrated their biggest wins of their careers while established shuttlers fell and a few continued to excel.
Here are some of the highlights of the tournament:
Blood, sweat and tears
Young star Kunlavut Vitidsarn fulfilled his childhood dream after surviving a titanic tussle with Japan’s Kodai Naraoka, winning 19-21, 21-18, 21-7 in an energy sapping final lasting one hour and 49 minutes.
The three-time world junior champion shed blood, sweat and tears to become the first Thai to capture the men’s singles gold at the senior world meet.
The 22-year-old’s patience and perseverance paid off against the stubborn Naraoka. He was the runner-up to Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in the final last year.
Power of perseverance
In one of the tournament’s biggest shocks, India’s H.S. Prannoy stunned world No. 1 and hot favourite Axelsen 13-21, 21-15, 21-16 in a pulsating last eight encounter much to the dismay of the home fans before losing to Thailand’s eventual champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn in the semis to settle for a bronze. It was still the 31-year-old Indian’s first medal at the world meet.
Young and dangerous
An Se-young brought further joy to South Korea after becoming the first women’s singles player from her country to capture the world title.
The world No. 1 easily swept aside Spain’s three-time champion Carolina Marin 21-12, 21-10 to seal her place in history.
It crowned a dominant year for the 21-year-old Se-young after she had captured a whopping seven World Tour titles so far.
She will be looking to add the Asian Games gold to her impressive collection next month in Hangzhou.
Seo-prise double delight
The indefatigable Seo Seung-jae emerged the biggest winner at the world meet after taking home two titles. The South Korean star caused a major shock when he teamed up with Chae Yu-jung in the mixed doubles to topple China’s world No. 1 and defending champions Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong for the first time after nine defeats.
Seung-jae then still had the energy to come back on court with Kang Min-hyuk in the men’s doubles and beat homesters Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen 14-21, 21-15, 21-17 in a thrilling final.
Seung-jae became the first male player since fellow countryman Kim Dong-moon (in 1999) to win a double. They had dethroned Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik in the semis.
While all eyes were on fellow Danes Axelsen and Anders Antonsen, Astrup-Rasmussen had very much flown under the radar prior to the tournament.
But the experienced world No. 11 pair defied the odds and outshone their more illustrious compatriot to go all the way to the final before losing to Seung-jae-Min-hyuk of South Korea. Astrup-Rasmussen beat Malaysia’s 2021 bronze medallists Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi, India’s Asian champions Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty and China’s world No. 3 Liang Weikeng-Wang Chang en route to the final.
They became the first Danish pair to win a silver since Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen 10 years ago.