At the 2000 Summer Olympics, young Mikhail Popov, representing Bulgaria, lost in the second round of the men’s singles badminton event. That second-round entry came from a bye in the first before being decimated 0:15, 4:15 by Fung Permadi of Chinese Taipei in the next round.
Later in his career, Popov represented France for a few years before hanging up his boots in 2007 without showing much apart from a couple of national titles under his belt.
Bulgaria, or France for that matter, is not the traditional powerhouse in badminton and the players are not considered half as good as their counterparts from other European nations. But Popov might have done just enough in his career to leave the next generation of players from France with a small legacy to build on. Even today, the nation is not known for the sport of racquets, but it does have some names that can challenge the best players in the world.
Thom Gicquel and Delphine Delrue are the 11th best pair in the world today in mixed doubles, while Emilie Lefel and Anne Tran are 29th in women’s doubles. In the women’s category, Qi Xuefei, ranked 44, recently beat Malvika Bansod from India at the Swiss Open. But undoubtedly her best bet, at least for now, is in men’s singles with Toma Junior Popov and Christo Popov continuing their uncle Mikhail’s legacy or perhaps starting one of their own.
2022 would mark the first time the Popov brothers would be tested among the world’s top shuttles for a full calendar year, and so far the signs have been encouraging. Yes, of course they could be better than some of the Indian boys and many Indian fans would hate to believe it, but maybe in their heart they would know that the Popovs are something special.
Follow us here on Facebook
Keep in touch with us on Twitter here
Like and share our Instagram page here