Viktor Axelsen celebrates at Dubai Sports Council with a giant gold medal cake
Viktor Axelsen celebrates at Dubai Sports Council with a giant gold medal cake Image Credit: Supplied

Viktor Axelsen, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic men’s badminton champion, visited Dubai Sports Complex to celebrate his success in Japan. While there, the Danish world No. 2 Denmark announced his plans to make Dubai his training base for the future as he tries to add more silverware to a trophy cabinet that already boasts the 2017 World Championship crown alongside the Olympic gold, and two BWF Dubai Superseries Finals and eight other BWF World Tour titles.

Axelsen, 27, became the first non-Asian man to win the Olympic badminton singles title since 1996 when he defeated Chinese defending champion Chen Long 21-15, 21-12 in the final earlier this month. He followed in the footsteps of compatriot Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen, the current president of the Badminton World Federation (BWF), who was the last non-Asian Olympic men’s badminton champion at the Atlanta Games.

Axelsen thanked Dubai Sports Council for its support during his preparations for the Olympic Games at Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex and Hamdan Sports Complex.

He arrived at DSC headquarters with his glistening gold medal around his neck, and was received by Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council.

“I am here to celebrate my Olympic gold medal,” said Axelsen. “I have had a really good time here in Dubai Sports Council today. They are always really supportive and I have been really enjoying being here.

“I want to thank Dubai Sports Council and Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex and everyone for their full support. Every time I have been here, the support has been amazing, and I have really enjoyed it. I have been able to focus on my training and enjoying my life here.”

Axelsen first came to Dubai in 2015, to take part in the BWF Dubai Superseries Finals, and he immediately fell in love with the city. He reached the men’s final that year. Axelsen, however, came back to win the Dubai Superseries Finals men’s crown in 2016 and 2017, and he has remained a frequent visitor since, choosing Dubai and NAS Sports Complex to prepare for his Olympic gold bid in Tokyo.

“Dubai has been a special place for me since I got here for the first time,” Axelsen said. “I am really thankful and really happy to be here every time, and the opportunity for practise and preparation has been amazing.

“When I came here for the first time in 2015, I quickly realised how many good opportunities were here and how professional everything is, and the help and support I have received at NAS Sports Complex has been amazing.

“That’s why it has been easy for me to spend some time here. I have had opportunities to not only focus 100 per cent on my training, but also enjoy my life here. You have to be happy outside the court to perform well.

“I am aiming to spend more time here, and training whenever possible. It’s a great opportunity for me and I want to get even better.

“So I am really looking forward to spending some more time here in the future and train at NAS Sports Complex. The surroundings and everything are top notch, and I can really focus on getting even better.”