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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.