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'Super Dan', world's most flamboyant badminton player
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He could be no more controversial as a badminton player. Nicknamed Super Dan for dominance on the court, Chinese shuttler Lin Dan was also called arrogant and brash by one of his rival and media.

Lin Dan of China competes during the men's s singles gold medal match of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games badminton event in Beijing, China, Aug. 17, 2008. Lin Dan won the match over Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia and got the gold medal.[Xinhua] 

About 7,500 spectators witnessed Lin's wildness after winning the men's singles gold at the Beijing Olympic Games on Sunday. After a military salute to the audience, he threw his racket and then shoes, perhaps wet with sweat, to the audience, rushed to the stand to hug chanting spectators, and hung the Chinese national flag high up and running on the court.

Lin, one of the biggest name in China and the international badminton stage, became the first reigning world champion in the men's singles to be crowned Olympic champion, by defeating Lee Chong Wei, the world's No. 2 from Malaysia.

It was a time for Lin Dan to prove and defend himself, as he was eliminated early in the Athens Olympic Games, earning him a shameful nickname "Lin the first round".

Lin were under fierce criticism this year before the Olympiad. In April he allegedly punched a coach during a pre-Olympic training camp. Journalists described his behavior as intolerable and called for him to be dropped from the national team.

In January, he had a public clash with South Korea's Chinese coach Li Mao in the Korea Super Series tournament in Seoul. He refused to apologize for his behavior claiming that Li had used foul and abusive language to attack him and the Chinese team.

However, his amazing achievements, especially the Olympic gold, backed his strut and neutralized most of critics.

Technically Lin has no weaknesses, says Danish veteran shuttler Peter Gade, who believed Lin was the most favorable one for the Olympic matches. However, Lin's girl friend Xie Xingfang said "there will be many players difficult to deal with, but the biggest challenger is nobody else but Lin Dan himself."

Lin apparently grew more mature at the Beijing Olympic Games. He was serious with every single match, game and rally. He kept a low profile since his first match and said Lee Chong Wei from Malaysia and Lee Hyun-il from South Korea "were better than me, as they have beaten me at their home courts."

When he qualified for the final, Lin said compared with four years ago when he was eliminated early at the Athens Olympic Games, he has already achieved a lot this time and would be happy with a sliver medal.

Even for Hidayat Taufik, the one who called him arrogant, Lin showed his respect at a press conference on Aug. 17, calling Taufik is a good player and saying he would try to earn a gold at the Asian Games, just like what Taufik had done.

Off the court, he is the Mr. Right for Xie Xingfang, the world's top women's singles player. They are called the badminton golden couple or "the Condor Couple," named after characters in a Chinese novel about an impetuous young warrior and his calm, elder lover.

"Lin picks dresses for me when we go shopping. He also gives suggestions on my dressing," said Xie.

"It is good for him to change his personality a little bit. However, I just want Lin to be himself," said Xie.

Xie planned to retire after being defeated by her teammate Zhang Ning in the women's singles final at the Beijing Olympic Games. Lin said he respected Xie's decision and himself would continue playing.

A native of southeastern China's Fujian Province, Lin began to play badminton at the age of 5 and entered the Fujian provincial sports school at 9. He went on the path of glory since he was enrolled into the national team in 2001. He became an athlete of the army at the age of 13, which is why he pays military salutes after victories.

(Xinhua News Agency August 18, 2008)

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