Friday, May 14, 2010

They know when to quit

Denmark’s 3-2 loss to Malaysia in the Thomas Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday was a painful farewell for two great Danes who have kept their team in the world men’s team championships.

Men’s singles shuttlers Kenneth Jonassen and Peter Hoeg Gade said this was their last Thomas Cup with Denmark. Jonassen said he planned to move to England to become a coach with the country’s national team.

“I thought it was going to be a very good experience. I’ve only known the Danish system. I’m very happy with that, but if I have to be involved as a coach, maybe I can add an outside view of things. It is very good for me and Denmark as well,” the 35-year-old Jonassen told the Jakarta Globe.

“So for me it’s not a goodbye to Denmark, but see you later. That’s why I left, a new experience for me and my family to live outside Denmark.”

Jonassen, who climbed as high as No. 2 in the world in April 2005, said Denmark was making good progress in bringing through youngsters to replace departing shuttlers.

He said Viktor Axelsen was a crowning achievement of Denmark’s junior development system. Axelsen won the World Junior Championship in Guadalajara, Mexico, last month, breaking Asia’s domination and becoming the first European to win the title.

In an effort to speed up his development, Denmark decided to bring him to Kuala Lumpur to gain experience in the prestigious team championship.

“We have a really good mix between young and experienced players this year. I think it’s really important for the lineup to keep coming,” Jonassen said.

“But of course, he can’t go directly this year to join the team, maybe in two years or three. Viktor has not joined the national team yet. He has to learn to be the best, has to learn more things out from the court. He is still 16, still too young to join the national team. He’s not ready to move away from home.”

For Gade, it was painful to accept his last Thomas Cup performance ended so early, after losing to Lee Chong Wei in the quarterfinals.

“I’m still going to continue for one, maybe one and a half years more. Maybe until the Olympics,” the 33-year-old said. “I think I’m going to be a coach. You never know. We’ll see.”

Gade also said he had faith Jan O Jorgensen would do well as his replacement at No. 1 singles in team competitions. 

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