DENMARK: WHERE IS BATMAN?
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November 15, 1998 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Peter Rasmussen, the reigning men's
singles world champion in badminton fondly known to his Danish compatriots and
fans as Batman or Phantom, has been missing from international competition
since he made a losing appearance at the Thomas Cup Finals in late May in Hong
Kong. With his absence from the tournament circuit since that disappointing
performance, the world champion has dropped down in the rankings and is now
sitting at a lowly number 54.
Rasmussen was entered in October's Danish Open and in the recent Indonesian
Open. However, he had to withdraw from both a week before the Danish
competition because of a training injury to his left knee.
1998 has been a bad year for the world champion from Denmark. He injured an
ankle in an unusual fashion in mid-February. While warming up for a match
at the Thomas Cup preliminary tournament in Norway, he twisted his ankle
severely and was unable to compete in the team event.
The injury caused him to miss the prestigious All-England Open as well as the
Swedish and Swiss Opens.
He was sufficiently recovered to enter the European championships in April
where he reached the semifinals. However, the effort, specially in the
marathon quarterfinal match against England's Mark Constable, aggravated the
ankle injury and he severely strained his Achilles tendon. He was unable to
continue in the tournament and was forced to give a walkover in the semifinals
to teammate Peter Gade.
Despite the recurrence of the injury, he was named to Denmark's Thomas Cup
Final side. He was not sufficiently recovered and fit, though. In Denmark's
tie against Hong Kong, he played the third singles against Liu Kwok Wa and
was defeated in three games 14-18, 15-6 and 10-15.
Rasmussen was not fielded again during the Thomas Cup Finals. In his stead,
the Danes named the less-experienced and less dynamic Kenneth Jonassen to play
in the third singles slot.
The reigning world champion is definitely out of the race for a spot in the
World Grand Prix Finals slated for January in Jakarta and he is also in danger
of not even qualifying for the world championships scheduled for mid-May in
Denmark. He will have to reach the semifinals of the major tournaments in
early 1999 if he is to book a berth at the world championships and have a
chance to match the near-legendary Chinese player Yang Yang as the only person
to win the world men's singles championship of badminton twice.
The injuries are also costing Rasmussen money. The Danish player has one of
the richest endorsement contracts in the sport with one of the badminton
racquet manufacturers. The contract is said to have a maximum payout value in
the million-US-dollar range. However, a great part of the payments is based on
performance and world ranking. With his world ranking at number 54 and his
inability to compete due to injury, Rasmussen is not getting paid many of the
bonuses in his endorsement contract.
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