Why the World Top-10 changed his diet and sleeping routines and why he thinks he became a world-class player.

Clothing: Oscar Jacobson, Morris and Tiger of Sweden

Photos: Victor Jones

On the day of the interview with Kim Astrup, 26 years old, just finished one of the last trainings before Thomas Cup – the World Championship for Men’s Team where he and his teammates from the Danish national team sensational won two years ago, which is no doubt among the – if not the – most impressive result Danish badminton has ever made. Backing this tittle actually starts on this very day this article is published. Focused and excited to try to defend the title, Astrup says that “defending the title is possible, but a lot of things has to fall into pieces” as the team unfortunately have had some minor setbacks due to injuries.

Going a bit back in time – before his aforementioned world championship for national teams, before his European Championship, before his National Championship and before he entered the world top 10 (all together with his double-partner, Anders Skaarup Rasmussen) – on the theme on why he thinks he, over so many other talented players, have made it and entered the world stage there is mainly two things that pops into his mind. “Stubbornness. And some sort of curiosity on how you can get better all the time. On the court as well as outside of the court. And this is perhaps also why I still play today. Becoming better every day is what gets me motivated. When I started training in Broendby (where the national team trains) it became obvious for me that I needed to adjust some things in my life in order to make it to the top.” So what is that needed to be changed? “Well, first of all a lot of things on the court, both technically and tactically”, Astrup says. “But as time past, and as I got older, it was obvious that I needed to adjust what I ate, how I managed my sleep and how I could prepare for the next training.”

The changes have all made some serious improvements for his play. “When I was around 15-20 years old, I was injured constantly. I was up to late, had dates – you know, doing whatever a young teenager do. Now, as I have an understanding of these things, for example that I need to eat a lot of vegetables and have a steady sleeping routine that is also kept during the weekends, I have a surplus of energy and I can stay injury-free”. All these things are of course something that would have been valuable to recognize and do from a very young age, but Astrup still don’t regret anything from his past. “If I didn’t have that kind of youth, doing these things, perhaps I wouldn’t think of badminton as something fun, like I do today.”

But what do a professional badminton player do outside of seasons and during breaks? “It’s important to have a thing outside of the court. Golf is one of the things I spent a lot of time on during summer. It really helps me to recharge.” Talking about non-sports thing that he enjoys doing, being in the nature is on top of his list. “I like fishing and can do this on my own, or I can do it with my girlfriend. My girlfriend comes from Norway, so if I make a good pot of coffee to take along, she is more than happy to go with me,” Astrup says. Likewise he already planed going with a couple of friends into the woods, set up a tent and prepare their own food over the fire for a couple of days. “For me, it’s the perfect preparation for the individual World Championship this August. Being a bit away from the court just before the hard preparations are starting.”

Being a part of the Top 10 in the world is as hard as it has ever been. “All pairs are really, really good. And we can all win and loose to each other all the time, perhaps except from the Indonesian pair who are the current No. 1. They are no doubt the best pair in the world right now, and are very, very difficult to beat.”

Where being a part of the world top in badminton wasn’t very financially beneficial in the past, things have changed the last 5 years. “Companies that want to enter the Asian market have now realized just how many people who are watching our sports out there. For example, when we played the Thomas Cup-final in 2016 more than 500 million people watched this. So it’s safe to say that the interest and attention is there.” Increasing the attention to the sport is obviously positive, when you ask Astrup.” It is extremely positive for the sport and for the level of competitiveness. And of course, it’s nice to be compensated for all the hard work you are doing every single day.” Planning to play for at least the next ten years, Astrup got plenty of chances to claim his money. However, as he says “If I don’t get better than I am today, I don’t play that long. I don’t play for the money, I play to become the best and win titles for Denmark.”

With more than 100 days of travelling during a year, Astrup knows a thing or two about travel-hacks. “If you are going to a country with a much different time-zone, set your clock to that destination one night before travelling. It helps you with jetlag. And for god sake, never take a nap during the day on the day you arrive. It will mess you up right away!”

Follow Kim Astrup and the other Danish badminton stars on their way of defending their Thomas Cup-title on TV2 Sport from today and for the next couple of weeks.