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Triumphant Jonassen Leads Danish Assault on European Honours

Dane Kenneth Jonassen demolished compatriot Joachim Persson 21-13, 21-16 in the final to win his first European Championship title in Herning, Denmark.

Jonassen's victory highlights a dominant performance by the Danish team, who won four of the six gold medals on offer.

With former world number one Peter Gade not playing, Jonassen knew it was his best chance to win the title after failing in five previous finals. And the 33-year-old finally won the tournament that had been eluding him for so long in his hometown.

"I was like a Boxer with a belt to defend. I felt like it was my title and that I had to defend it each round," he was quoted as saying. "Since Peter Gade wasn't here, I was in the position of the hot favourite and everybody here was talking about gold for me.

"This was my challenge, and throughout the week, I would say that badminton-wise it was rather easy, but the biggest challenge was to be able to cope with the pressure and deliver when I was expected to do so."

There was no joy, though, for Jonassen's fellow Dane and All England women's singles champion Tine Rasmussen.

The 28-year-old Rasmussen was beaten 12-21, 21-12, 21-17 by Germany's Xu Huaiwen in the women's singles final to prevent Denmark from taking what was expected to be an easy fifth gold medal.

Hu sneaked up from nowhere in the final, tamely losing the first game, then dominating the second before fighting back in the third.

Rasmussen had jumped to a 7-3 lead in the deciding game but Xu levelled it at 9-9 before going on to win the game, and the title.

Said Rasmussen; "At the beginning, my game was going well. But later I could feel my legs get heavy. Now I need to recharge my batteries."

Just? like Rasmussen's loss was a surprise, so was the victory of Denmark's Rytter Juhl and Frier Kristiansen, who beat British pair Gail Emms and Donna Kellogg 21-18, 21-18 to win the women's doubles crown.

The Danes also won the European team championship, held before the individual events, as well as the men's doubles title.

The victories are ideal preparation for May's Thomas Cup Finals in Jakarta, though they will find it much harder against the top Asian sides.

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