Olympic champion Carolina Marin swept the women's singles title at the European Badminton Championships for the fifth consecutive time even as the event was rocked by COVID-19 cases on the final day.
The most prominent among the names to test positive at this Kiev tournament was World No. 2 Viktor Axelsen. It dashed the Dane's hopes of successfully defending his European Badminton Championships title as he had to forfeit the final to his compatriot Anders Antonsen.
The German men's doubles pair of Mark Lamsfuss and Marvin Seidel were the other finalists to test positive on the concluding day of this continental competition. The fifth seeds gave a walkover to Russian third seeds Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov.
Marin continues supremacy at European Badminton Championships
Three-time world champion Carolina Marin continued her iron grip over the women's singles title at the European Badminton Championships.
Having started the 2021 season in thunderous fashion, the Spaniard stormed through the draw at the continental championships without dropping a game.
In the final, the top seed made short work of Danish seventh seed Line Christophersen 21-13, 21-18.
This was the fifth time the southpaw tasted glory at the European Badminton Championships, adding to her titles won in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
It was also Marin's fourth title in five tournaments in what has been a brilliant start to the year. The only final she lost in 2021 was at the BWF World Tour Finals, where Tai Tzu Ying edged her in three games.
With the form and confidence she has shown so far, Carolina Marin looks poised for a second gold medal at the Olympics.
Meanwhile, the European Badminton Championships women's doubles final was won by top seeds Gabriela Stoeva and Stefani Stoeva. The Bulgarians held off English second seeds Chloe Birch and Lauren Smith 21-14, 21-19 to successfully defend the title they won in 2018.
Lauren Smith had a double whammy on the final day of the tournament. The English shuttler also went down in mixed doubles in a nailbiting final alongside Marcus Ellis. The Commonwealth Games silver medallists squandered a bright start to lose 21-11, 16-21, 15-21 to Russian sixth seeds Rodion Alimov and Alina Davletova.
European Badminton Championships setback could derail Axelsen's Tokyo Olympic preparations
Men's singles top seed Viktor Axelsen was going on strong at the European Badminton Championships until the virus altered all his plans.
Axelsen had started the 2021 season on a strong note, winning three titles in five tournaments. The Rio Olympic bronze medalist looked every bit motivated and determined to get the Games gold medal that he missed five years ago.
A blockbuster final match against Anders Antonsen at the continental event would have further given Axelsen a measure of where he stands in terms of preparations.
However, it was not to be. The 27-year-old will now remain in hotel quarantine in Kiev for 13 days, separated from his family and team.
Even though the Dane has said that he is feeling perfectly alright, the gap in his Olympic training could have implications later on.