‘Being a couple helps us play better’: Danish badminton partners after announcing relationship

A Danish badminton doubles pair has announced they are a couple, after having kept their relationship a secret for eight years.

'Being a couple helps us play better': Danish badminton partners after announcing relationship
Christinna Pedersen (R) and Kamilla Rytter Juhl. Photo: AFP PHOTO / ANDY BUCHANAN/Scanpix

Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl told broadcaster TV2 that they are no longer concerned about the consequences of being open about their off-court relationship.

The pair have formed one of the most formidable doubles teams in the sport for several years, having won the European Championships in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017 and finishing runners-up in the World Championships in Indonesia in 2015. They are currently ranked world number 4.

In an interview on TV2’s ‘Go’ morgen Danmark’ programme on Tuesday, they revealed that they have also been in a relationship since 2009.

They had previously decided against going public for two reasons, they said.

“The first reason is that Christinna and I want to be recognised for our sporting achievements and not for being a couple,” Juhl said on the programme.

“We wanted that recognition, and now we feel we have that, which makes it feel like the right time to tell the public,” Pedersen said.

The second reason for keeping the relationship out of the spotlight was security, they said, with a number of the countries in which they have played potentially problematic for players in same-sex relationships.

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“That’s why we made a decision not to talk about the relationship before we were ready in a sporting sense. We had to be prepared to choose not to play in some countries,” Juhl said.

They are now prepared to do that, though they remain unsure of the exact sporting consequences of making their relationship public, they said.

Photo: Nils Meilvang/Scanpix

“We don’t actually know what’s in store for us, but we believe and hope that everyone will still see us as the badminton players we’ve always been. The worst thing that can happen is that we’ll get death threats, and if that happens, we’ll take it into consideration before we travel to a tournament. We’ve reached a point in our careers where if we have to drop out of some tournaments, we’ll do it,” Pedersen said.

The two badminton players began their relationship in 2009, one year before their on-court partnership. Neither player has previously had a same-sex partner.

“I think one of the reasons we have become so good at women’s doubles is that we’re also a couple. We have a lot of love for each other and also love playing doubles together. The joy many have noticed when we’re on the court is in no way an act. We really think it’s great to be able to play and experience this together. In the end we’re just two girls who think playing badminton is great,” Pedersen said.

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Merkel condemns Hungary’s LGBTQ law as ‘wrong’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticised a new law in Hungary banning LGBTQ educational content for children as "wrong" as a European row on the measure hotted up.

Merkel condemns Hungary's LGBTQ law as 'wrong'
Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking in the Bundestag on Wednesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Felix Schröder

“I consider this law to be wrong and incompatible with my understanding of politics,” Merkel said on Wednesday in response to a query from a far-right lawmaker at government question time in parliament.

The German leader said she saw it as a contradiction that “single-sex partnerships are allowed” in Hungary “but education about them is restricted”.

“That impacts freedom of education and such matters and is something I oppose politically,” she said.

It was likely Merkel’s final question and answer session in the Bundestag before she steps down at the federal election in September. 

Merkel was also quizzed on Germany’s Covid management where she reiterated that the pandemic “is not over yet”.

Rainbow flags across Germany

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has condemned the Hungarian law as a “shame” that went against EU values, saying it “clearly discriminates against people on the basis of their sexual orientation”.

READ ALSO: Germany turns rainbow-coloured in protest at UEFA stadium ban

She said the Commission would raise legal concerns over the law with Budapest, and added: “I will use all the powers of the commission to ensure that the rights of all EU citizens are guaranteed whoever you are, and wherever you live.”

Merkel declined to be drawn on the Commission’s plans against Budapest, or on a disputed decision by UEFA refusing to allow the Munich stadium hosting Wednesday’s Germany-Hungary Euro 2020 match to light up in rainbow colours.

READ ALSO: UEFA refuses to light Munich stadium in rainbow colours for Germany-Hungary match

Munich city authorities had planned the display to “send a visible sign of solidarity” with Hungary’s LGBTQ community.

Fifteen of the EU’s member states have signed up to voice their “grave concern” at the LGBTQ law that Budapest argues will protect children.