European Games: Bulgaria, Denmark Recapture Gold

European Games: Bulgaria, Denmark Recapture Gold

Badminton’s first gold medals of the 2023 European Games were handed out yesterday, with Denmark and Bulgaria wresting back the men’s and women’s doubles crowns.

The men’s doubles final proved a thrilling affair, which eventually went the way of Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen. The top seeds defeated British pair Ben Lane and Sean Vendy 21-15 19-21 21-19 in a pulsating 74-minute contest, reclaiming the gold Denmark won at the inaugural edition at Baku 2015 via Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen.

The success also saw Astrup/Rasmussen get over the heartbreak of losing the 2019 final to Marcus Ellis/Chris Langridge.

“It’s beautiful, and I’m incredibly proud of Kim and myself. There are many tournaments in a year and many matches to be won, but it’s not every time you come out on top,” Rasmussen told Badminton Denmark.

Astrup added: “We have a good team around us who help us every single day and ensure we perform at a high level. This medal belongs to them as much as it belongs to us.”

Earlier, overwhelming favourites Gabriela and Stefani Stoeva, also gold medallists in 2015, beat Dutch pair Debora Jille/Cheryl Seinen 21-7 21-17 in the women’s doubles final.

“We knew what our goal here was and we’ve been working a few weeks towards that. We wanted to make our country and parents proud. We are happy to take this medal back to them,” Gabriela told Badminton Europe.

Three more finals to come

Carolina Marin’s 21-13 21-11 straight games victory over Kirsty Gilmour set up a gold medal match with Mia Blichfeldt, who also won in two (21-15 21-16) against Swiss youngster Jenjira Stadelmann.

Men’s singles star Viktor Axelsen was given a tougher fight and kept on court for 51 minutes by Toma Junior Popov but the Dane stayed composed to win 21-17 21-18.

“I didn’t feel that comfortable out there. Credits to Toma for playing a good match,” Axelsen, who takes on his semifinal opponent’s younger brother Christo today, said.

The mixed doubles final will be between top two seeds Thom Gicquel/Delphine Delrue and Robin Tabeling/Selena Piek.

The losing semifinalists in all five disciplines return home with bronze.