TOKYO (REUTERS, AFP) - Denmark's Viktor Axelsen won the Olympic badminton men's singles gold medal on Monday (Aug 2), crushing defending champion Chen Long of China 21-15, 21-12.
The world No. 2 is the first non-Asian man to win the singles title since 1996.
He took control early and never loosening his grip in a relentless performance.
“I still have to take this all in,” said Axelsen, 27, who didn’t lose a single game in Tokyo.
“This is the biggest achievement you can have as a badminton player and this means the world to me.”
Axelsen, who won bronze at the 2016 Rio Games, followed in the footsteps of compatriot Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen, the Atlanta Games champion and the last winner from outside Asia.
Hoyer-Larsen, now world badminton’s president, was in the arena to watch Axelsen match his achievement.
World No. 6 Chen was bidding to emulate legendary Chinese player Lin Dan in retaining his Olympic title.
But Axelsen held his nerve with the prize in sight, then broke into disbelieving sobs when Chen hit the final shot long.
“When you win an Olympic final in straight games like this against Chen Long, I think you can say that you’ve been at least really, really close to your best,” added Axelsen, who can speak Chinese.
World No. 1 Kento Momota exited the competition in the group stage.
Anthony Sinisuka Ginting claimed the bronze medal for Indonesia after beating Guatemala's Kevin Cordon 21-11, 21-13.
Ginting’s win gave Indonesia two medals on the final day of badminton, after Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu claimed gold in the women’s doubles.
It was Indonesia’s first Olympic title in women’s doubles, and the country’s first gold medal of the Tokyo Games.