Growing up, my mother forced me to go to Chinese school every weekend. “It will be useful for you in the future!” she would say. Needless to say, I slacked off every week and refused to pay attention. So you can imagine how I felt when I learned that a Danish athlete learned my mother tongue in less than two years.
Viktor Axelsen, 22, is a star badminton player from Denmark who recently won a bronze medal in men’s singles at the Rio Olympics. He defeated defending champion Lin Dan of China in a thrilling game 21-15, 12-21, and 21-17. He’s currently ranked fourth in the world.
After his semi-final loss to eventual champion Chen Long, Axelsen gave an interview to CCTV about his disappointing performance — entirely in Mandarin! This left his fans and Chinese viewers in complete awe.
Axelson started learning Mandarin in 2014 with hopes that it would help him land endorsement deals and potential coaching opportunities when he retires.
“I can’t say right now that I will go to Asia (to live),” he told Reuters in 2015. “But I’ll see where it leads me and right now it is an exciting language to learn as so many people in the world are speaking it.
“China is also a country of opportunities and that’s the other reason I am doing this.” he said.
Axelsen get his Mandarin lessons in Copenhagen via Skype from a school in Beijing. He also has a Weibo account where he regularly interacts with his Chinese fans.
I guess now it’s time for me to call up my mother and tell her how right she was.