Lin Dan: Until the end of the world

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, August 6, 2012
Adjust font size:

China's Lin Dan celebrates after men's badminton singles gold medal match against Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, at London 2012 Olympic Games in London, Britain, August 5, 2012. China's Lin Dan won gold medal in this event. [Ren Zhenglai/Xinhua]

He threw away the racket, dashing out of the court and shouting. Time seemed to be frozen, while the overjoyed Lin Dan rushed on and on, until the end of the world.

"Until the end of the world" was what the Chinese badminton star had as a tattoo, and also name of his autobiography published on Friday, the same day as he won the second men's singles Olympic gold.

"We shall not part, as I have been praying night after night, until the end of the world," wrote the Olympic champion poetically.

Splendid days

Starting to play badminton at the age of five, Lin became a dark horse in 2001 after upsetting the heralded defending champion Taufik Hidayat with just 29 minutes. In the next year, he surged to reputation by winning the Korea Open title.

But career of the shuttler was far from just plain sailing. In 2004, when the ambitious 21-year-old was tipped as the Athens Olympic champion, he lost to an obscure player while the gold medallist Hidayat was in the full flush of success. During the next two years, the Indonisian prodigy Hidayat was his nightmare.

Facing the questioning of public, Lin worked harder to prove his ability. He won the gold medals of 2007 World Championships, 2008 Thomas Cup and was crowned at the Beijing Olympics. A Lin-Dynasty started.

The London Olympics saw another peak in Lin's career, when he became the first shuttler to defend the title in men's singles. His rival was the No. 1 seed Lee Chong Wei

The word "heart-stirring" was not enough to describe how fierce the competition was, as they were both best players in an era, topping the world rankings alternatively.

Lee, from Malaysia, changed his direction abruptly in the first game, posing threats to the Beijing Olympic champion with diagonal smashes. With a lapse of Lin, Lee took the game 21-15.

The beginning of the second game saw the duo locked in a tug of war, before Lin began pulling ahead after a long exchange and finished the set quickly with a drop shot 21-10.

Atmosphere became strained in the decider, when shots from both players became faster and the pair tumbled sometimes for a retrieval. Even the umpire began making mistakes and corrected after being challenged by Lin.

Their scores tied from 1-1 to 19-19. Each tiny lapse at this time could be fatal.

Lee broke the ice first by making a mistake to send the bird into the net, and then struck the last shot out of the court. 21-19. The audience seethed with excitement.

Lin comforted Lee with a hug, while the song, We Are the Champions, resonated in the arena.

"I think this medal is a recognition of my efforts in the past four years," the 29-year-old Lin said. "After the Beijing Olympics, I had to work harder to defend my title, as more people wanted to beat me."

Bidding farewell

Lin had said jokingly "I spent more time playing with Lee than staying with my wife". On the court, they were rivals. Outside, they were good friends.

"We are too familiar with each other, without any secrets in terms of skills and strategies," the Chinese player said.

While Lee also said that when they were playing against each other, "it was like old friends having exchanges", adding that he hoped they "can be good friends forever".

The pair, together with Hidayat and Denish legend Peter Gade were known as the "Big Four" because of their dominance in the badminton arena for a decade.

Lin would become emotional at the topic of these glitzy names. "I have changed a lot over the years, from eager to win a title to enjoying the matches, because you never know next time, who will still be in the arena and who will leave," he had said.

After the match on Sunday, he said, "I am so lucky to have such great and respectable opponents in my career, and I do cherish each opportunity playing with them."

Gade has decided to retire at the end of this year, while Hidayat said this was his last Olympics. Lee Chong Wei, who was one year older than Lin, told press that he would play until 2014.

"We didn't start our career on the same day, and nor can we end simultaneously. When we were facing each other separated by the net, I know that no matter win or lose, it was my precious experience, because your high-level opponent could make your victory more valuable and your failure meaningful."

Family life

Talking about his plan for the future, the man from east China's Fujian Province said the first thing to do is to throw a wedding ceremony.

At the end of 2010, Lin registered for marriage with Xie Xingfang, who was two years older than him.

In fact, the tall and pretty Xie was a wonderful shuttler as well, who snatched silver medal in women's singles at the Beijing Olympics.

Many people might still remember the romantic moment in 2007, when Xie won her All-England Badminton Open Championships in women's singles in Birmingham, Lin congratulated her with a bouquet of red roses and stunned audience by kissing her in the arena.

This year, the man had a new tattoo "FF", which were the capital letters of Xie's nickname.

"While together, we are really happy," he said. "We realized our dream in sports and I hope after the London Olympics, I can give her a big wedding."

Lin has intended to invite Gade, Hidayat and Lee to his wedding. "Then we will have a baby," he said with happiness written on his face.

It has always been a mystery whether Lin would retire after the London Olympics.

"Even if this is my last Olympics, even if after many years the name Lin Dan darkled away," he said in his book. "Those splendid days when we fought together did exist, and the memories we shared shall continue, until the end of the world."

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from