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(Photo: Badminton Europe)
Nella Nyqvist: I am aware of my talent
Date: 11/30/2020 2:19 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
On rare occasions in sport, a player emerges who is able to unite onlookers in agreeing that they are witnessing the beginning of something special. The Finnish sensation, Nella Nyqvist, may just be that one in a million talent. 

Perhaps similar emotions were felt when Lin Dan or Carolina Marin first began making their mark at junior level. Another left-hander was able to stir up such feelings and showcase her talent at the 2020 European Junior Championships last week in her homeland of Finland. 

The U15 European Champion entered into the U19 tournament at just 14 years of age. Nyqvist was born in 2006, the same year that badminton first adopted rally point scoring and Lin Dan won his first World Championships in Madrid. 

In the team event for Finland, Nella won both her matches against some of the best Denmark and Germany had to offer, instantly arousing the interest of fans. However, it was in the individual event where she began to really turn heads. 

After defeating Emily Drouin in straight games, she knocked out seventh seed Yasmine Hamza, 23-21, 21-17, entering into the quarterfinals. 

-I am pleased that I have played all my matches so well. I am surprised that I have made it this far in the tournament, Nyqvist said. 

This is a giant step up for such a young player to be playing against individuals who are three or four years her senior. Despite this, Nyqvist went about her business without a flicker of emotion or hesitation. 

-I have not really felt much pressure about my matches during the tournament, because I am younger than all the other players. It feels good to achieve this in Finland, Nyqvist stated proudly. 

-I am quite used to playing against older players, she adds. 

Nyqvist then faced her sternest test yet in the quarterfinal against the number two seed CoE player, Amy Tan. The Dutch player had no answers to Nyqvist in the opening game, losing 21-15. 

-In the first game I was searching for the right tactics, as she was playing well. She was pressuring me a lot in the forehand corner at the back and won a lot of points, Tan analysed. 

Tan, 18, then managed to adapt her game and force a decider with a 21-17 game. Although, beyond Nyqvist’s obvious shot quality, Finnish coaches have praised her tactical intelligence. This was on show in the third game, enabling her to pressurise Tan’s game once again, winning 21-12. 

This win guaranteed Nyqvist and Finland a European Junior medal. 


Too much respect
In the semifinal, Sweden’s Edith Urell, 17, proved too strong for the Finn, winning 21-15, 21-12, and narrowly missed out on the gold against Russia’s Anastasiia Shapovalova in the final. 

After her win, Urell shared a few thoughts about Nyqvist. 

-All of us know that Nella is a really good player and that she is probably an upcoming star. She is going to be very good in a few years. She has a tricky game, playing a lot of good soft shots and great deceptions. 

Urell continued by exploring how she was able to do what others struggled to in the tournament. 

-I think I managed to not focus on how good she is for her age, and just treated it like a normal match. I tried to not have too much respect for her even though she is so great for her age, stayed cool and focused on my game. 

Nella Nyqvist made it onto the podium at her first European Juniors with a bronze medal around her neck. Her performance in Finland left fans believing that a lot more is yet to come. 


Self-awareness
It is always a curiosity whether the top sports stars were aware of their talent when they were growing up. For Nyqvist, she knows and is prepared to follow it through by working hard. 

-I am aware of my talent, because I have trained hard, and I will progress forwards with the potential of time.

Nyqvist certainly has the gift of time in her hands and the knowledge that she has four years to build on her bronze medal finish at junior level. It goes without saying - watch this space. 

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