Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen and Tokyo Games silver medallist Tai Tzu Ying were named the BWF Male and Female Player of the Year respectively in recognition of their stellar runs this season. It was the first season-ending award in this category for both Axelsen and Tai Tzu Ying -- the All England champions of 2020. All eight winners were honoured in a virtual broadcast on Friday.
Axelsen was rewarded for his extraordinary run starting from the Barcelona Spain Masters in February 2020. The Dane made 10 finals in 11 individual tournaments, winning seven of those, including gold at the Tokyo Games. "This means a lot to me," said Axelsen in a release. "Thank you to my team, my coaches, my friends, my family, my competitors. This year has been really eventful. A few downs, but a lot of ups, with the Olympics being the biggest win, a dream coming true. This award gives me a lot of motivation to work harder."
Tai Tzu Ying won the All England 2020 and then struck a rich vein of form at the three-tournament Asian Leg in January 2021, making all three finals, and clinching the BWF World Tour Finals 2020. The Chinese Taipei player then made the final of the Tokyo Olympics, going down in a thrilling match to China's Chen Yu Fei. "It's a pity I can't be in Indonesia for the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals," said the world No.1.
"I really miss competing in Indonesia which has such enthusiastic fans. I never thought that I could win this award. I'll continue to compete and try to achieve better results. I hope that fans will continue to support me."
Given the disruption caused to the circuit by COVID-19 over the last two years, the period of consideration for the BWF Player of the Year awards was from November 2019 until October 31, 2021.
Among others, Olympic champions Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin of Chinese Taipei were named the Most Improved Player of the Year ahead of Lee Zii Jia, Pornpawee Chochuwong and Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik. Lee and Wang won all three titles at the Asian Leg in January 2021, before going on to capture a historic gold medal for Chinese Taipei at Tokyo 2020.
Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu, who claimed the women's doubles gold at Olympics, won the Pair of the Year award. While the Olympic gold was the high point of the season, the Indonesians were also successful at other World Tour events, winning the Indonesia Masters and Barcelona Spain Masters in 2020, and the Thailand Open in early 2021.
Thailand's Kunlavut Vitidsarn, the three-time world junior champion, who has started to make waves on the senior circuit, was named Eddy Choong Most Promising Player, beating other contenders Line Christophersen, Toma Junior Popov and Brian Yang.
In Para badminton, Qu Zimo, and Leani Ratri Oktila won the year-end Player of the Year honours for the second time. Qu Zimo was named Male Para Badminton Player of the Year, and Oktila the Female Para Badminton Player of the Year. France's Lucas Mazur/Faustine Noel were honoured with the Para Badminton Pair of the Year award. The BWF Awards Commission also made special mention of Guatemalan Kevin Cordon's journey across four Olympic Games and his inspiring performances at Tokyo which took him to the semifinals.