THE European players have reawaken to add spice to world badminton.
In Hyderabad, some of them showed that they were not only snapping on the heels of the top Asian players but they have also come out of the shadows.
The Danish mixed doubles pair of Thomas Laybourn-Kamilla Rytter Juhl were the star performers — scalping the world’s top three — Nova Widianto-Lilyana Natsir (Indonesia), Lee Yong-dae-Lee Hyo-jung (South Korea) and Zheng Bo-Ma Jin (China) — to claim the title.
Laybourn said: “We knew we had the toughest draw to even think about winning the world title but we had self-belief in our ability to do it.
“It is good for the sport of badminton if there is a keen contest between the European and Asian players.”
There were also pockets of upsets created by the Europeans in the other events because they had the courage to do the unexpected.
Danish youngster Jan O Jorgensen was one of them. He sent South Korean Park Sung-hwan and Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana packing before going down to Indonesian Taufik Hidayat in the quarter-finals.
Jorgensen certainly showed that he is on the right track to take over the mantle from top Dane Peter-Gade Christensen.
And there was Germany’s Juliane Schenk, who chalked up a stunning win in the women’s singles competition, eliminating All-England champion Wang Yihan of China in third round.
It was Schenk’s career best result and it is also an indication that other European countries apart from Denmark are taking up badminton seriously.
Schenk had been training under a Chinese coach for a year and she is determined to prove that her performances in Hyderabad were no flashes in the pan.
If she continues to rise, she will get into the same league as Dane Tine Rasmussen, Indian Saina Nehwal and Malaysian Wong Mew Choo, who have chalked up wins over top Chinese players.
Their emergence have created more excitement in a China-dominated event.