1996, peaking at the perfect time
Date: 6/23/2021 2:06 PM
Published by : Rasmus Bech(BEC)

1996 was a memorable year for European badminton: For the first time a European player claimed the gold medal at the biggest event.

If you were born before 1990, close your eyes. If you were born after 1990, go to YouTube. If you are old enough to remember the 1996 Olympics from Atlanta, USA, you for sure remember this moment:

Poul-Erik Høyer faced Heryanto Arbi, Indonesia, in the semi-finals. The score was 14-6 and match point for the Dane. Høyer played a drop shot to the forehand side of Arbi, who lifted to the backhand side of Høyer. The Dane let the shuttle fly. It was out. Høyer dropped to his knees and ripped open his shirt as part of his celebration.

- The semi-final was important to me. By winning that match, I then knew that now it was a fight for gold or silver, and that is why I celebrated in that spontaneous way, Poul-Erik Høyer said to Team Denmark

Next point
This iconic moment will always be remembered, and so will the final, in which the current BWF President faced Dong Jiong from China. After winning the two games, 15-12 15-10, Poul-Erik Høyer was crowned the very first European Olympic gold medallist.

- It was not a final of high quality, but I had to put the pressure on him, because he was faster than me. I was all way thinking “next point, next point”.

- I was not focused on that this was a major event and that I was close to winning, Høyer remembered.

“Thank you”
After winning the epic medal, Høyer showed off a few dance moves, and he also took his time to celebrate with the crowd in the stands.

- After the match I was focused on the spectators. I wanted to say, “thank you”.

- When I am looking back at my career, this is always the one I am thinking about first. I always focused on becoming better and better and to get the results, which the “payback”, and that is what this medal is to me.

Other notable Europeans
Poul-Erik Høyer outshined all the other European players at the 1996 Olympics, but notable names were attending the Atlanta Games alongside the – for now – only European men’s singles Olympic champion.

The 1992 men’s singles medallist, Thomas Stuer-Lauridsen, lost to the Chinese runner-up, Jiong, in the third round, while Team GB men’s doubles, Simon Archer and Chris Hunt, came up short in the quarter-finals, which was also the case for the current Badminton Europe Vice-President Andrey Antropov and his partner Nikolai Zuyev.

Young Camilla Martin lost her quarter-final against Mia Audina, who at the Olympics in 1996 represented Indonesia, and her fellow Danes, Helene Kirkegaard and Rikke Olsen, also left the tournament after losing to Ge Fei/Gu Jun from China, who went all the way.

Do you remember the 1992 Olympics, where badminton made their debut? Read the 1992 recap here

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