Sport in 2022: One for the record books

Viktor Axelsen’s domination and Tour de France glory headline a fantastic year for Danish athletes on the world stage

As years go, 2022 is probably destined to fade into the oblivion of ignominy for a variety of obvious reasons. 

But sport has perhaps offered one of the few bright spots in Denmark … let’s forget about that World Cup fiasco for a moment.

Busting US barriers
Some of the most memorable moments included big Danish breakthroughs across the pond in the US. 

Gabriel ‘Iffe’ Lundberg made history as the first Dane to play in the NBA for the Phoenix Suns, while Hjalte Froholdt became the first Danish non-kicker to take a snap in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns.

And how about Lars Eller? The first Dane to win the Stanley Cup back in 2018, Eller played his 1,000th NHL game just before Christmas.

Champs galore
Elsewhere, the curling ladies won their first European championship in 28 years, while the dressage team captured Denmark’s first ever world championship title. 

Ever the competitor, Anne-Marie Rindom won her third World Championship in sailing.

Mads Pedersen enjoyed the best season of his career, winning three stages and the points classification at the Vuelta a Espana, as well as a stage at the Tour de France. Indeed, it was a historic year for Danish cycling. 

Finally, an honourable mention goes to the handball ladies, who came close to reliving the glories of the past by finishing second at the Euros. 

There were many deserving contenders, but ultimately there were a few who really soared. Below are the Top 5 Sports Achievers of 2022.


5 Turpal Bisultanov 

Bisultanov is turning into quite the feel-good story. Having arrived in Denmark as a kid from war-torn Chechnya, the 21-year-old had a sterling year on the wrestling mat, winning the European championship and finishing runner-up at the Worlds in the 87kg weight class. Due to get his Danish citizenship soon, he aims to win an Olympic title.

4 Nanna Koerstz Madsen

Madsen turned heads on the links in 2022 by become the first Dane, male or female, to win a title on the PGA Tour when she triumphed at the Honda LGPA Thailand tournament in March. The 2018 rookie of the year’s win has been deemed by experts as being the most significant in Danish golf history.

3 Holger Rune

Who would have thought. Denmark would have a male tennis star! Rune began 2022 ranked 103 in the world and finished it ranked 10th thanks to a marquee win at the Paris Masters and a quarter-final showing at the French Open. Djokovic, Alcaraz, Rublev, Tsitsipas and Norrie are just a few of the names he dispatched during his meteoric rise up the rankings last year.

2 Jonas Vingegaard

Someone will always feel hard done on these lists, and Vingegaard would be the prime candidate here.  Vingegaard laid the foundation for perhaps the greatest year in Danish cycling history by winning the Tour de France in dominant fashion, claiming two stages and the mountain classification on the way to Paris. Vingegaard is the first Dane to triumph since Bjarne Riis in 1996.  

1 Viktor Axelsen

It’s not every year that someone dominates a sport in the way the Funen badminton player has in 2022. He absolutely destroyed the competition. The world number one won eight out of the sport’s 12 major titles: 

All England (March)

European Championship (April)

Indonesia Masters (June)

Indonesia Open (June)

Malaysia Open (June/July)

World Championship (August)

French Open (October)

BWF World Tour Finals (December) 

From Morten Frost to Poul-Erik Høyer, Denmark has fostered some badminton greats in the past, but no-one has ever had the year Axelsen fashioned in 2022 and it was only fair that he was named the best male player in the world by the BWF. The crazy thing is that he can improve in 2023. He’s already won the Malaysia Open this month to kick things off.