Danish great Camilla Martin is at the venue where she called time on her career 17 years ago. It was at her final event, the Denmark Open, that a painting of her was installed at the Ceres Arena. With the painting serving as backdrop, the Aarhus-born Martin, who works as commentator with TV channel TV2, gives glimpses of her career and rivals, and what she makes of contemporary women’s singles:
What does it mean to have this event in Aarhus?
When I come home it’s always nice. I was born and raised here in Aarhus, lived for the first 22 years, and then I moved to Copenhagen. At my last tournament, before I retired the painting was made. So every time I come here – I’ve been doing a lot of football as well for the Super League in Denmark – every time I come here, all my colleagues come here and look at the wall. I think it’s so nice that the Uber Cup is here in Aarhus.
Now I’m with TV2, so it was kind of a way back to doing badminton again after I retired in 2004.
I only did football, a little bit of badminton at some times, like the World Championships (2014, Copenhagen), but mainly football. So I’ve been away from the sport in a working sense, but I have followed the players along the way since I retired. So it’s lovely to be here. And of course, the picture, it’s so lovely.
You must have played in this arena…
Yes, my last tournament when I retired was here, so I kind of started in Aarhus and retired in Aarhus. It was the Denmark Open, it used to be held here at that time. That’s also special.
Your thoughts on the current generation of women’s singles?
The Chinese are not as dominant as when I was playing. There are more countries now, they have the opportunities to win the women’s singles. But of course the play has developed a lot, it’s quite fast, attacking game. I was playing it around and doing the tactical stuff, but in the speed and the way they’re playing it’s coming to a really, really high level. I love to watch women’s singles just to see how it has developed, and it’s a more attacking game. And of course I look at the Chinese to see where they are. At my time it was only me and the Chinese. It’s nice to see more countries being able to win in the women’s singles.
At my time the Chinese had Zhang Ning, Xie Xingfang, Ye Zhaoying, Zhou Mi, they were all tall. In the years after they had smaller players but still strong. It goes up and down, I think. I just saw the third women’s singles, Wang Zhi Yi, she looks exactly in the playing style as Chen Yu Fei. She looks so much alike!
Gong Zhichao was the exception among your Chinese opponents?
Gong Zhichao was the lonely story (shorter player), she was such an amazing player, very difficult to beat, but she’s one a kind, I think. Going even further back, it was Susi Susanti who could play on and on and on, didn’t make any mistakes. It was kind of the same with Gong Zhichao. There have been so many Chinese players as well when I had my matches against them. I think they were really strong. It seems like it’s more difficult for the Chinese now. They have good players, but during my time, they had five, six, seven good players.
You moved away from the sport after retirement. Didn’t you want to be involved with it?
I actually needed time off, I was kind of tired talking about the same things. I was tired of myself in the story of Camilla Martin, started playing when I was six… and I met my husband, he’s working in IT business… so I really needed the time away. But I have been following it ever since. I didn’t want to go back to coaching. I thought it was good for me to do something else. I retired in 2004 and I’ve been doing TV commentary since 2006.
When you see an event like this, it must bring back memories.
It always strikes memories. Somehow, as you get older, you tend to look back in a different way. I couldn’t do it again, and sometimes I think how do they do it? You do it when you are in it, but it seems like when you get away from it at a certain distance, you can look at what you did for your country and for yourself in a different way, so I’m very proud of what I achieved, also at a time when it was difficult against the Chinese. So these are nice memories and it’s nice being here in my hometown.
Do you feel like going down there and playing yourself?
I’m kind of sitting in the chair sometimes and thinking: ‘How did I do it?’ Because it’s so tough, and today with the social media… With social media, it’s so much tougher to be a great player. If you don’t deliver, if you don’t win, there’s instant talk everywhere about what you did, how you look, so… I’m glad I’m sitting in the chair looking at the others.
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