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YONEX All England Badminton 2016: 'Prestige beat winning feeling'


Poul-Erik Hoyer, the current Badminton World Federation president, will be forgiven for feeling an extra tinge of emotion when he attends this year’s YONEX All England Championships.

Next week will mark the 20th anniversary of the Dane’s men’s singles title at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham. He secured back-to-back wins and did so without dropping a game, paving the way for the start of a remarkable year.

"Winning the All England in 1996 meant a great deal for me,” said the Dane. "When you made it here, you could make it anywhere.

"There is all the history that goes with winning. The best are gathered here and everyone is in good shape and peaking.

Hoyer and his 1995 robot celebrations

"As the All England was regarded as the de facto World Championships, it is the tournament everyone wanted to win especially as it is close to the end of Olympic qualifying."

Hoyer remembers the support from the Danish fans, who still travel in numbers every year to Birmingham.

One reason for this, he says, is not only the proximity to the UK but also due to the timing of the event.

"Spring is usually one month ahead in the UK and Danes like to get that feeling early,” he said. "It has been a tradition to travel over."

Not only that, but Hoyer admits that the support from the English fans also played their part. "When it comes down to Europe versus Asia, we stick together!" he said.

Hoyer’s subsequent victory over Malaysia’s Rashid Sidek was the only win for a European player that year. And he took that form into the 1996 Atlanta Games as he struck gold to become the first and (still) only European badminton player to win an Olympic title.

"Winning for the first time was my real breakthrough," he added of his 1996 All England win.

"It gave me the belief that I could win the big tournaments. The feeling was certainly great but the prestige of winning the title is bigger."

Eurosport will broadcast the 2016 YONEX All England. Schedule and info here

Watch all the world's best players at the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships, 8-13 March 2016.

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Photography credit: Peter Richardson


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