Viktor Axelsen, a badminton player from Denmark, not only stunned the world at the Olympics with his badminton skills, but also with his Mandarin. Axelsen lost against eventual champion Chen Long in the semi-finals, but went on to win bronze after defeating two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan. While he may be young in age at only 22, the Dane is already a well-accomplished player, currently ranked #4 globally by the Badminton World Federation.
After his match with Chen Long, Axelsen spoke in comprehensible Mandarin Chinese to CCTV about his own disappointment at the many mistakes he made, saying that he wasn’t nervous before the game, but during the match he miscalculated several hits. The CCTV interviewer also asked Axelsen to speak to his Chinese fans watching. Axelsen adorably smiled and thanked them for all their support.
Axelsen started to learn to speak Chinese back in 2014, hoping that it would help him with future sponsorship deals and also with coaching opportunities after retirement. Obviously, badminton is a sport that is predominately popular in the Chinese market. “China is also a country of opportunities and that’s the other reason I am doing this,” Axelsen explained, according to Reuters. To learn, Axelsen takes tutoring lessons in Copenhagen and collaborates with a school in Beijing that teaches online via Skype.
In addition, he also has a more hands on approach with the language by interacting with fans on Weibo and communicating with players or interviewers at different competitions. Chinese netizens have fawned over him and applauded his effort to immerse himself in their language and culture.
Watch him speak below:
Not bad. But is Axelsen on John Cena’s level?
By Sarah Lin
[Video via Facebook]