Saturday, 20 Jul 2024

NEWS

It’s a new chapter for Mia Blichfeldt as she enters the YONEX All England Open this year. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Danish player decided to make some changes off the court. Recognizing that lockdown would affect her performance, she took on a more deliberate approach to life. Blichfeldt uninstalled her social media apps, picked up knitting, and even enrolled in business and psychology courses at a university in Denmark.

“The past year has been a personal journey of growth for me,” said the 23-year-old after her victory in the second round. “I’ve discovered new activities off the court that I can invest my energy into. Having something else to focus on besides badminton is important to me.” Blichfeldt added, “I’m thrilled to have started my education. It was a choice I made, not something I felt obligated to do, and it gives me a positive vibe.”

Blichfeldt has channeled this newfound energy into her matches at the YONEX All England Open. After progressing from the first round when Saina Nehwal retired, she overcame fatigue and a tight turnaround to defeat Yvonne Li in the last 16. The Danish player, who had previously lost to Li at the European Mixed Team Championships, capitalized on her opponent’s dwindling energy.

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“I kept pushing through the rallies,” Blichfeldt said. “We had some intense and challenging rallies, and although they physically drained me, they had the same effect on her. The long rallies gave me that extra boost.” Earlier this year, Blichfeldt impressed with a strong performance at the YONEX Thailand Open, reaching the semifinals and defeating players like PV Sindhu and Busanan Ongbamrungphan. However, she had to withdraw from the Toyota Thailand Open due to a hip injury, a common issue faced by Danish athletes adjusting to quarantine restrictions.

“Many Danish players have been experiencing hip problems because we’re sitting for such long periods,” she explained. “I’m used to being more active, and when you have so many hours confined to your room, it takes a toll on the body. This injury has taught me the importance of relaxing and not constantly being stressed.”

Despite her commitment to rest, Blichfeldt found it difficult to stay still in her hotel room, often pacing to keep her muscles loose. Fortunately, her neighbors haven’t complained… yet. “I’ve been walking around for about two and a half hours in my room, from one end to the other, calling my family to keep myself sane!” she laughed. Blichfeldt’s journey at the YONEX All England Open began in 2018 when she reached the quarterfinals, and she will face Thailand’s Rathchanok Intanon in the last eight.

While she may be the sole European left in the women’s singles draw, Blichfeldt has earned the respect of her opponents. “Mia has improved a lot since the last time we played,” acknowledged the Thai seed. “It’s been a while, and I’m not sure what will happen tomorrow, but I’ll definitely need to prepare well to face her.” Photo: BadmintonPhoto

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