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'I was shaking like a little child'

Axelsen is third Dane to win world singles title after beating Chinese legend Lin Dan

Denmark's Viktor Axelsen fulfilled a childhood dream by beating the legendary Lin Dan in straight games to claim the men's singles gold at the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The 33-year-old Lin was going for a record sixth title, but he had to settle for second best after a 20-22, 16-21 defeat.

He had a game point at 20-19 up in the first game, but always trailed in the second.

Axelsen is the third Dane to claim the men's singles crown.

Flemming Delfs won the inaugural 1977 title and Peter Rasmussen was a winner, also in Glasgow, 20 years ago.

"It was my dream to be in a world final," said Axelsen, the 2014 world and 2016 Olympic bronze medallist.

"But it is unbelievable to beat Lin Dan. I have been watching him for years.

"Today, I may have appeared confident, but inside I was shaking like a little child."

At the end of the match, the 23-year-old Axelsen clutched his head in disbelief and then collapsed onto the court.

Today, I may have appeared confident, but inside I was shaking like a little child. Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen on how he felt during the final against China’s Lin Dan

For Lin, it was a tough defeat.

"If I had won the first game, the result might have been different," said the Chinese star.

"But, in the second, all the pressure was on me."

Lin was coy when asked about his future plans.

"I don't have time to think," he said. "I go home tomorrow and the Chinese National Games start the day after.

"Then I play in the Japan Open. After that, I have no plans.

"It will be difficult to play in the World Championships at 34."

For Axelsen, who defeated Olympic champion Chen Long in the semi-finals, the future could not be brighter.

"It is great to know that all the hard work has paid off," said the strapping 1.93m-tall player.

"Chen Long and Lin Dan have won all the major championships and they inspire me.

"But I remain humble. Some people say I am too tall for singles, but I know I can improve.

"Today, I am just so happy."

In a superb women's singles final, Nozomi Okuhara became the first Japanese player to win a world singles gold medal with a stunning 21-19, 20-22, 22-20 victory over India's PV Sindhu.

The match lasted 110 minutes - easily the longest of the championships - and neither player could have given more.

In the end, it was the tenacious Okuhara who came out on top.

"I hope this win will inspire others," said the diminutive 22-year-old.

"The third game was so close and I was absolutely exhausted.

"But I decided to try and enjoy it and I could see that she was very tired and was struggling.

"My attitude got me through."

The only other Japanese gold at a world championships came from Etsuko Toganoo and Emiko Ueno in the women's doubles at the very first 1977 championships.

Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota had a chance to repeat that success, but they had to settle for silver after losing 18-21, 21-17, 15-21 in the final to China's Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan.

China collected a second gold in the men's doubles with Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan scoring a comfortable 21-10, 21-17 win over the relatively new and unseeded Indonesian pair of Mohammad Ahsan and Rian Agung Saputro.

But Indonesia did claim a title when Olympic champions Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir clinched the mixed doubles gold after beating Chinese top seeds Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen. - AFP

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