Danish great Mathias Boe retired last month after an international career of over two decades.
The 39-year-old can look back with pride, for he and Carsten Mogensen were one of Denmark’s most accomplished doubles pairs, with an Olympic silver, World Championships silver, and several top-tier titles.
In this interview with Badminton Unlimited, Boe talks about his decision to quit, missing the winning feeling, and fond memories of his best matches:
Deciding to Retire
Boe: I’m not young anymore, at least not in the world of badminton, so obviously these thoughts have been on my mind for quite a while now, at least for the last two years or so. Not every day obviously but once in a while it comes to your mind.
Right now, I’m actually feeling relieved. I don’t have to deal with the pressure anymore, I don’t have to push myself each and every day to become the best. And also, not being frustrated. Let’s face it… I wasn’t the best for maybe some years or at least the way I’ve been in my career. My friends and family have celebrated and sent some nice messages and also from the fans and colleagues from around the world. They’ve sent a lot of retirement wishes my way. When you start playing professionally, it’s only for a limited time period. So, my time is up and I’m pretty happy about it actually.
Rebounding from Disappointment
Boe: Just after we got dumped out of the 2008 Olympics, Carsten and I were wounded mentally for not being selected to the Danish team. Soon after, we travelled to Chinese Taipei and won the Chinese Taipei Open by beating Tony Gunawan and Candra Wijaya in the final which was quite an upset.
The year after, we won our first Superseries title in Korea. We beat Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae on their home soil which nobody expected, not even us. In 2010, we won the Denmark and French Opens, two Superseries tournaments back to back. Actually, when you’ve tried that you know how mentally hard it is to play one week and then continue the next week. You can only be disappointed unless you win again. So actually, to win back to back tournaments is one of the most difficult things you can do as an athlete. After the French Open we became world No. 1. From there, we won our first All England title.
What He Will Miss Most
Boe: Definitely the winning feeling, the winning moment. When you look back and watch it on YouTube once in a while, see some of your greatest victories and think about how you felt during that week, that high it gives you. Sometimes when you sit back on the flight on the way back from Asia and you’ve won you feel like that if this plane crashes, I think I’ll be the only one who survives! That’s actually the kind of feeling you have. Yeah, that feeling is something I will miss.
On Future Plans
Boe: I have a few small projects going on. First and foremost, I will try to stay in shape and not gain too many kilos! I will still try and take care of my body. I am a little into real estate, I’ve invested in real estate in different places in the world so I will look more into that. A massive thank you to all my fans out there in the world. It’s always a pleasure hearing and seeing you. I promise I won’t show up in every tournament, but I would definitely come back to some tournaments. Maybe even for work but it’s for my own pleasure and to watch the tournaments live.
Boe’s Most Memorable Matches
Yonex All England 2011
Final: Boe/Mogensen bt Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong
“2011 All England was a crazy moment for us. The year before, we had four match points in the final against Lars Paaske and Jonas Rasmussen, and to miss out on that was really crazy. With the history of that defeat the year before and then trailing badly in the third game and then coming back with a crazy comeback was all joy.”
BWF World Superseries Finals 2011
Final: Boe/Mogensen bt Chai Biao/Guo Zhendong
“The Superseries Finals, we’ve won it three times in a row and it’s special. Especially this second one where it was such a close encounter in the first game, saving a lot of game points. It’s actually one of those matches where you can enjoy because you know the outcome. You’re leading 16-7 or so and you can just like loosen up your shoulders, walk around and see it go relatively easy, especially in the second game.”
Yonex All England 2015
Final: Boe/Mogensen bt Zhang Nan/Fu Haifeng
“Winning the second All England title, there’s a former famous athlete who said something like anybody can do it once but only the really good ones can do it twice. At that time, we played really well that season. I have so many close encounters against Fu Haifeng so obviously we drew blood there. Being able to win there was just fantastic.”
Yonex French Open 2016
Final: Boe/Mogensen bt Bodin Issara/Nipitphon Phuangphuapet
“The French Open in 2016 was quite a comeback. Just claiming the title completed the comeback going from (Mogensen’s) brain surgery and not knowing if we were able to get on the court again and then claiming a Superseries title. It also showed the kind of personality that Carsten has and how eager he was just to get back on court and fight it out. It was an experience that ties us even more together. Maybe I would say that is one of the biggest achievements that we have done together.”
OUE Singapore Open 2017
Final: Boe/Mogensen bt Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen
“2017 was definitely special because in Singapore we beat one, two and three pairs in the world rankings. I think it was Sonoda and Kamura in the quarterfinals, Kevin and Marcus in the semifinals and Li and Liu in the final. Shortly after that we also were back at No.1 on the world ranking.”