Badminton Loses One of its Great Champions09 January, 2018
Badminton lost one of its greatest characters when Svend Pri died suddenly in Copenhagen on June 8, 1983, aged 37.
From 1964 until the end of the 1970's Svend Pri was one of the leading personalities, achieving a record of victories only surpassed by very few in the history of Badminton.
He started his Badminton career at the age of eight and won his first Danish senior title in 1965, and was the natural successor to Erland Kops. In all he won 8 national singles titles, more than any other male player in the history of Danish Badminton and played in a series of remarkable and dramatic finals against opponents such as Erland Kops, Jorgen Mortensen, Elo Hansen and Flemming Delfs.
He won his first top international titles in mixed doubles partnering Ulla Strand to All-England victories in 1967, 1971 and 1972. It was, however, obvious that he was at his very best as a singles player, being ranked as Denmark's No. 1 for almost a decade. Nevertheless he had to wait ten years for the All-England title when in 1975 after several unsuccessful attempts he broke Rudy Hartono's fantastic record of seven titles in succession, making it an unforgettable final.
In his book, "Ten Years at the Top", which was issued in the same year, Svend Pri wrote: "I dare say that I am the Danish world champion who has struggled most to win the coveted title. Svend was one of the very few Europeans able to reach his peak in the East, which made him an invaluable member of the Danish Thomas Cup team for 6 inter-zone contests. Perhaps his greatest win was the victory over Rudy Hartono in Jakarta in the 1973 Thomas Cup inter-zone final. No other European ever did that. Rudy beaten on his home ground made headlines in the papers for several days. After the match Svend threw three rackets up to the public where they were torn into pieces. Asked why he said "don't you think that my friends up there would be happy to have a piece of the racket that beat Rudy?"
Svend announced his retirement from Badminton during a party in 1977 after the first World Badminton Championships celebrating the success of the Danish team, no one present will ever forget his speech while the orchestra gaily played Frank Sinatra's "My Way".
Not always known as Svend Pri, he started his career as Svend Anderson when he was a toolmaker and indeed won his first mixed doubles title in this name in 1967. He changed his surname with his success, together with his occupation, to enable him to devote more of his time to his sport. He became masseur and later a coach at clubs, later still coach of the national team in 1981-1982. For the last six years he ran a sports shop in Copenhagen. Like most other sportsmen Svend was something of a loner. He had his ideas and they were not always put forward in a tactful manner, but if he felt that he had unintentionally hurt somebody he would put his hand out and add a joke and a smile when saying sorry.
Svend was full of joy, fun and good spirit and always had a surplus to give to his friends and relatives. His personality, his skill and fighting spirit contributed a feeling of pain, hurt and anger that this live wire is not among us anymore. He gave of his best to Badminton, he will be much missed,but he will be remembered all over the world.
-- World Badminton, September 1983