Arnaud Merkle ( Photo: Badminton Photo )
France: the new European powerhouse?
Date: 4/8/2020 9:56 AM
Published by : BEC Staff

With France producing some great young talent, seen best at the 2018 European Junior Badminton Championships where they won gold in three categories, one better than the previous year, people are taking note as to what this means for the future look of European badminton.

The men’s singles gold went to Arnaud Merklé, who defeated Christo Popov in the final. Fabien Delrue and William Villeger took the men’s doubles gold after a terrific final against the Scottish Grimley brothers. Delrue took gold again in the mixed doubles with partner Juliette Moinard. 

Denmark, the traditional powerhouse of European badminton came away with a single gold. France also defeated them in the team event final. Many are already thinking that France has the potential to be the new European number one. On this subject, Toma Junior Popov states. 

- Denmark is a giant, they always have top players and win everything in Europe. I think we may have the potential the be the number one, there is a lot of hope in the new French generation (my brother, Arnaud Merklé, Thom Gicqel, me and others) and I feel we are getting closer and closer, so maybe one day it will be possible.

The Popov brother’s rise to the top is not actually connected directly to the national training centre. Speaking on whether this is a good decision and the reasons behind it, Popov explains. 

- Yes, it is. I do not want to have a personal coach other than my father. For me he is the one who can help my potential and level grow. In my club everything is for me: I train when I want, as long as I want, and the training is specific for me (physical and technical). In the national centre, I don’t feel good or in my place. Everything is collective, there is no individual thinking for each person.

Read: Ben Lane: My body couldn’t deal with it

Toma vs Christo

Lastly, Toma Junior Popov answered a tricky question: Who has the most potential: Him or Christo?

- A really tricky question! I don’t know. Each of us proved that we have the potential to play on the big stage. We are different, he is a more defensive player and I am more attacking, I am tall, and he is medium height. Apart from his silver medal in the world juniors, we had the same a junior career, so at the moment we can not say who will be the best, only the future can tell us!

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