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April 20, 1998 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - The word DENMARK summarizes the 1998 European badminton team championships that ended today in Sofia, Bulgaria as the team from Denmark dominated the competition. In today's gold medal match, the Danes went through an improved but still lacking English side and clinched the championship in the third match of the five-match meeting.

But England did not go down as easily as the other teams that had faced the Danes before them. The English managed to grab one match, even though that came long after the outcome of the final had been decided.

In the opening mixed doubles match, Chris Hunt and Donna Kellogg of England gave the world number three pairing of Jens Eriksen and Marlene Thomsen the stiffest of battles. Hunt and Kellogg took the Danes to a five-point setting in the first game and had their chances. Eriksen and Thomsen however had the steadier strokes and pulled out the first game win at 18-16.

In the second game, the English pair had the advantage late. Hunt and Kellogg held two game points at 14-12 and seemed poised to take the match into a third game. The Danes held fast and stopped Hunt and Kellogg's run. Eriksen and Thomsen pulled even at 14-all to force a three-point tiebreak.

It was nip-and-tuck in the setting with the two pairs both getting a game point chance at 16-all, As in the first game, it was the Danish duo who had the steadier play and they won the game and the match 17-16.

Winning the opening mixed doubles was key to any English chance at their defeating the Danes, because the next two matches in the order of play were the men's singles and women's singles, matches that the English had no hope whatsoever at any upset, specially with their best men's singles player, Darren Hall, sitting on the sidelines with an Achilles' injury. Having lost the opener, England was fated to settle for the silver medal.

Singles stars Peter Gade and Camilla Martin made certain of the gold medal for the Danish side.

Gade took an easy first game from Mark Constable 15-3 in the men's singles and Denmark seemed headed for a quick 2-0 lead. But Constable had other ideas. He increased the pace and gave Gade a spirited fight in the second set. In the end, though, the English player did not have enough in his game to stop the quick-moving world number two. Gade got to the all important thirteenth point first and won the second game 15-13, despite a late run by Constable.

In the women's singles, Camilla Martin easily disposed of Julia Mann in less than 15 minutes. Martin, despite being handicapped by a sore shoulder and a sore knee, zoomed past the hapless Mann in the first game, 11-0. She then relented somewhat and allowed the English lady four points in the second before she finished her and the English side off.

Denmark had clinched the European team gold medal.

In the women's doubles, Marlene Thomsen and Rikke Olsen beat Joanne Goode and Donna Kellogg 15-5 and 15-8 to put the score in the final at 4-0 for Denmark.

In the closing match, the men's doubles, Simon Archer and Chris Hunt put England on the scoreboard with a 15-8, 15-13 victory over Michael Sogaard and Jon Holst-Christensen.

The final scoreline in the gold medal match: Denmark 4 England 1.

In the bronze medal match, Sweden edged the Netherlands 3-2 with the Swedes taking the mixed doubles, women's singles and the deciding men's doubles.

Germany took fifth place, defeating Ukraine 4-1 and Russia grabbed seventh place, squeezing past a stubborn Scotland 3-2. With today's loss, Scotland drops out of the championship group in the next European championships.

Host Bulgaria won the promotion playoff, defeating Finland 3-2. Bulgaria will take Scotland's place in the championship group.

Switzerland defeated France 3-2 to earn eleventh place. Wales beat Poland 3-2 to take thirteenth place, and Portugal edged Ireland 3-2 for fifteenth place. With their loss today, the Irish have been relegated and will have to win the next Helvetia Cup competition among third-tier European badminton nations if it wants to play in the next European team championships.

Individual European badminton championship competition starts tomorrow and concludes on Saturday.

The results of today's Group 1 meetings:

Gold Medal Playoff
Denmark beat England 4-1
Mixed Doubles - Jens Eriksen/Marlene Thomsen (Denmark) beat Chris Hunt/Donna Kellogg 18-16, 17-16
Men's Singles - Peter Gade (Denmark) beat Mark Constable 15-3, 15-13
Women's Singles - Camilla Martin (Denmark) beat Julia Mann 11-0, 11-4
Women's Doubles - Marlene Thomsen/Rikke Olsen (Denmark) beat Donna Kellogg/ Joanne Goode 15-5, 15-8
Men's Doubles - Simon Archer/Chris Hunt (England) beat Jon Holst-Christensen/ Michael Sogaard 15-8, 15-13

Bronze Medal Playoff
Sweden beat the Netherlands 3-2
Mixed Doubles - Peter Axelsson/Catrine Bengtsson (Sweden) beat Quinten van Dalm/Nicole van Hooren 8-15, 15-12, 15-8
Men's Singles - Jeroen van Dijk (Netherlands) beat Thomas Johansson 15-9, 15-8
Women's Singles - Margit Borg (Sweden) beat Judith Meulendijks 11-4, 11-3
Women's Doubles - Nicole van Hooren/Lotte Jonathans (Netherlands) beat Jenny Karlsson/Johanna Holgersson 15-10, 15-8
Men's Doubles - Peter Axelsson/Par-Gunnar Jonsson (Sweden) beat Quinten van Dalm/Dennis Lens 15-9, 17-14

Fifth Place Playoff
Germany beat Ukraine 4-1
Mixed Doubles - Michael Keck/Nicole Pitro (Germany) beat Dmitri Miznikov/ Natalia Golovkina 15-5, 15-12
Women's Singles - Elena Nozdran (Ukraine) beat Nicole Grether 11-4, 12-9
Men's Singles - Oliver Pongratz (Germany) beat Vladislav Druzchenko 11-15, 15-5, 15-7
Men's Doubles - Michael Helber/Bjorn Siegemund (Germany) beat Valeri Strelkov/ Konstantin Tatranov 11-15, 15-12, 15-8
Women's Doubles - Karen Stechmann/Kerstin Ubben (Germany) beat Elena Nozdran/ Victoria Evtoushenko 15-10, 15-11

Relegation Playoff
Russia beat Scotland 3-2
Mixed Doubles - Nikolai Zuev/Marina Yakusheva (Russia) beat Kenny Middlemiss/ Elinor Middlemiss 15-12, 15-7
Women's Singles - Elena Suchareva (Russia) beat Anne Gibson 11-8, 12-9
Men's Singles - Bruce Flockhart (Scotland) beat Vadim Itskov 15-11, 15-9
Women's Doubles - Elinor Middlemiss/Sandra Watt (Scotland) beat Marina Yakusheva/Ella Karachkova 15-9, 15-9
Men's Doubles - Nikolai Zuev/Sergei Melnikov (Russia) beat Craig Robertson/ Alastair Gatt 15-6, 15-8