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(Photo: Badmintonphoto)
Messi was ‘too short’, Axelsen was ‘too tall’
Date: 1/13/2022 1:46 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
Viktor Axelsen, the reigning Olympic Champion, has won almost everything in the sport. However, speaking with his fans online, he shares that the opinions about his height when he was younger affected him and moulded him into the person he is today. 

In sport, we often hear stories about how the superstars of today were told that they will not make it or were rejected for various reasons. Famously, footballer Lionel Messi was snubbed by River Plate for being ‘too short’. Today, ‘the flea’ is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. 

The 28-year-old Dane, Viktor Axelsen, opened up about his experience of the doubts in his young career around if he can become an elite men’s singles players, who traditionally are shorter players with great speed and stability around the court. 

Despite this challenge and against the odds he reached the top. Axelsen uses his personal story to inspire and motivate his fans to also be strong against any adversity they have in their lives.

-It’s probably not the first time you’ve heard others saying that comparing yourself to others or listening to other people’s opinions about you can be detrimental to your mental health.

Axelsen’s story
The Odense-born player had bags of talent when he was a junior player and caught the attention of the badminton world. The discussion around how far he can make it began. 

-When I was 16 and just won the World Junior Champs as the first European ever, a lot of people started to follow me and therefore I also heard a lot of new opinions about my game. Good and bad.

-The most common one was that l that people thought I was too tall and lanky to become a good MS player. I was young and other people’s opinions did get under my skin a bit.

Other tall players
Even though Axelsen was proving his ability on the court and playing at a level well beyond his years, it changed the way he thought about his game. 

-It was also a time when I started growing a lot. 1.85, 1.87, 1.90 until the 1.94cm I am today. I remember having to make a new passport when I was around 17, and I was so frustrated that it said 1.90cm since not many world-class MS players were this tall.

Axelsen has previously said that he watched the matches of top stars who are also taller than average. So, he was watching clips with Bao Chunlai, Muhammad Hafiz Hashim and Park Sung Hwan and later Chen Long to learn from their style of play. While this helped, he was still anxious about himself.

-The problem was that in my head I knew that with my 1.94cm, I was even taller.

Negativity
This worry grew inside of him and began to affect his day-to-day training and caused potential ‘solutions’ to swirl around in his head. 

-When things weren’t going my way in training or tournaments the negativity grew inside me and I sometimes blamed it on my body type. I was probably too tall and too heavy I thought.

-I spend countless hours reading and trying to find new diets to help me lose weight and get more flexible and thought being lighter would help my movement on court.

A message from Axelsen
Axelsen is known for engaging with his global fanbase and through this he wants others to not feel the same pressure that he had. The message from the number one player in the world is.

-Stop comparing yourself to others and do what you think is right and do your best to surround yourself with people who support you as you chase your dreams.

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