Christo Popov did what no European player had done since 2011 (Photo: Badminton Photo)

Christo Popov: the hard work begins now

11/25/2019 11:24 AM | |  Alan Raftery
French badminton is in a promising place right now, with several young talents impressing at youth level, gathering vital experience to eventually make the leap into senior badminton. The continued trajectory of this growth is certainly an exciting prospect looking towards the long-term goal of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

Leading the way, having already made the transition into senior badminton are the Popov brothers. The eldest brother Toma Junior Popov, 21, former European champion in 2017, has won two senior titles this year. One in the city of his birth, Sofia, at the Bulgarian Open, and the other just last week at the Irish Open. 

Younger brother Christo Popov, just 17, has already made a significant mark of his own. After achieving silver at the last year’s European Junior Championships, losing out to another young French talent in Arnaud Merklé, he then went on to do what no European player had done since Viktor Axelsen in 2011 and get into a boy’s singles World Junior Championships final. The special Thai prodigy, Kunlavut Vitidsarn, was there to pick up his third gold medal, so Popov settled for silver. Speaking to us in Glasgow last week, we asked his thoughts on this achievement. 

-The first week after the World Junior Championship was to rest, and to realise the medal I have achieved. Then it’s just back to work. It’s just a step in my career, so the hard work begins now, Popov stated.

This week in Glasgow, Christo Popov managed an eye-catching semifinal result, narrowly losing to the eventual champion, India’s Lakshya Sen, 22-20 in the deciding game. His brother Toma Junior bowed out in the quarterfinals, but had the long tournament in Ireland last week, where he took the title. Commenting on his brother, Christo said. 

- We are very close as brothers, so it is very good that both of us are going well lately. We are pushing each other in training every day. It is nice to have this brotherhood and having good results as well. 

Lastly, we asked what Christo Popov needs to do next in order to improve and make another step up at senior level. 

- I think it would be to improve physically, to have more stamina. Also, consistency during the whole tournament. But not only just in one tournament, but all tournaments throughout the year, Christo stated. 

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