Whenever professional badminton in Europe is a topic for discussion it is inevitable that the train of thought quickly diverts to Denmark as the leading professional nation on the continent. It is the Danes who have consistently brought the fight to Asia over the past 20 years with the burden of expectation falling on the shoulders of a select few athletes.
Since the retirement of the Lundgaard/Eriksen & Paaske/Rasmussen combinations the burden of responsibility in men’s doubles has been born by a pair that epitomise professionalism, Mathias Boe & Carsten Mogensen. Both Boe & Mogensen have thread the boards of international badminton for over a decade. Mathias Boe won European junior gold in both men’s and mixed doubles as far back as 1999 while the younger Mogensen made his break with a European men’s doubles title 2001.
However, it was not until 2011 that the dynamic Danish duo finally made the big breakthrough that justifiably elevated them to super stars of the sport by winning badmintons equivalent of Wimbledon, The All England Championships. The Danes cemented their superstar status by adding the China Open in the same year to secure their position as Europe’s top men’s doubles pairing.
“The All England is my favourite tournament. It fits us well, it’s close to home and always with great crowds which we feed off”
With every success the Danes have had an equal amount of disappointment. Defeat in the early rounds of last year’s Denmark Open, in Boe’s home town of Odense, is an apt example and although they have a silver medal from this year’s worlds in China to complement their Olympic silver medal from London 2012 the Danes will feel deep down there is some unfinished business and that there is still a major championship medal with their names on it and Rio’s 2016 Olympics is where they plan to go out with a bang.
At the age of 34 Mathias Boe is the elder statesman of the partnership. Many might consider the 2016 Olympics as step to far for the pair but their professional attitude with a focused desire to win has been and will be a key to their longevity and Boe & Mogensen also feel their decision to stick together as a pair will benefit them come the Olympic campaign.
“Trust and understanding is the key to our success so far” said Boe. “China have split their Olympic champions Cai & Fu and Indonesia never seem to have a problem breaking up their partnerships for whatever reasons.”
“Here in Europe we have more of a say in our partnerships and this is important for us a people. As a pair we have great trust and understanding”
Since their victory at the All England in 2011 Boe & Mogensen have established themselves as a permanent fixture within the world’s top 5. The Danes held the number 1 position between November 2012 and June of this year which is a measure of their consistency and despite their advancing years they still remain the cream of the crop of European men’s doubles.
A professional attitude which is the envy of most professional players is a key component of the Danes success to date and an important ingredient in the partnership moving forward. As years start to run out for the Danes it will fall at the hands of some of Denmark’s emerging talents to take up the mantel from their more illustrious compatriots, a scenario Boe is encouraging but cannot see it happening any time soon.
“Yes we have some emerging pairs in Denmark. Kim (Astrup) and Anders (Skaarup Rasmussen) look to be developing in the right direction and Conrad & Kolding are back together after a few years apart. But they all still have a long way to go to bridge the gap let alone pass us out and they still have a lot to learn from Carsten & I”
When asked about retirement a smiling Mathias Boe was quick to respond “There is no chance we will be splitting up or retiring soon as we both feel we still have a lot to give”
Article by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe. Photos by BadmintonPhoto.