An inspired England stunned Denmark last night to record a first ever win over their European rivals at the Sudirman Cup, badminton’s illustrious world team championships, in China.
The English, looking to bounce back from Sunday’s 4-1 reversal to Indonesia in their group stage opener, dug deep in a 360 minute badminton marathon to win 3-2 with all five events going the full distance to three games.
Led out of Lauren Smith and Marcus Ellis, who won the opening team point in the mixed doubles, England took all three doubles ties in the Group 1B tie with both Smith and Ellis heroic in returning to court for energy sapping level doubles ties.
Whilst Ellis, alongside Chris Langridge, put England on the brink of a famous team victory with a 16-21 21-19 21-19 comeback men’s doubles win over down Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen, it was, in fact, Smith playing with Chloe Birch, who clinched overall victory in the final, tense 72 minute women’s doubles decider.
The England national champions defeated Maiken Fruergaard and Sara Thygesen 21-12 19-21 21-11 shortly before 1am local time.
“We are absolutely elated.” Smith said. “We knew Denmark were weak against us and we had an opportunity to beat them for the first time in quite a while.
“They are our big European rival and it feels incredible to step on court and win the deciding match.”
The English have every right to enjoy their history-making moment in Nanning after showing fighting spirit and endurance in a near seven hour classic match that swung on a knife edge in key fixtures.
Marcus Ellis was struck with cramp mid rally having played for more than three hours across two ties and, like Ellis, both Smith and Chloe Birch played at a high intensity throughout whilst doubling up.
It could have been even better too for England with Toby Penty and Chloe Birch each pushing higher ranked rivals to three games in the two singles ties which had handed Denmark a 2-1 lead with two to play.
Penty was always impressive in his 11-21 21-13 17-21 defeat to former world number one and world champion Viktor Axelsen whilst Birch was the match of Mia Blichfeldt for much of their own hour long duel.
England now have to wait on the outcome of tomorrow’s (Wednesday) final fixture between Indonesia and Denmark to determine if they progress to the knock out stages of badminton’s most coveted of team tournaments.