Double Olympic gold medallist, five-time world champion and arguably the greatest badminton player the sport has ever seen, announced retirement on 04th July 2020 at the age of 36, referring to his body and was not able to undergo pain and injuries that he could previously undergo.
He was famously called “Super Dan,” but his on and off court rush led to some calling him the John McEnroe of badminton. Lin Dan competed in the last four Olympics and won gold medals in 2008 and 2012, winning the sport’s Super Grand Slam (nine major titles) plus five individual world titles. He is one of the few badminton stars to have his wax figure at Madame Tussaud's in Shanghai.
Super Dan's retirement marks the end of a two-decade-long celebrated career. His rivalry with Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei is revered as the greatest rivalry in the sport. Of the 40 matches played against each other, Lin Dan holds the upper hand with 28 wins.
Here is a look at some of his epic matches.
First All-England Championship
In 2004, 20-year-old Lin Dan had a massive year. Super Dan was up against Denmark’s Peter Gade in the finals of the All-England Championships. The Danish superstar was in top form, Lin Dan found it hard in the first game but lost 9-15. The Chinese prodigy was back to his best by winning the second and the third game 15-5 & 15-8. The same year Lin Dan topped the men’s singles ranking too.
First Olympic Gold Medal
Going into the Beijing Olympics, Lin Dan was seeded as No.1, but Lin was not the favorite to win the gold medal. His nemesis, Lee Chong Wei, who had successfully beaten Lin at the Thomas Cup in May that year and at the Japan Open in 2007, was the first pick to win the gold. On the day of the finals, the Malaysian was no match for Lin as he trounced Lee Chong Wei 21-12 & 21-8 in 41 minutes. The home crowd went wild, and Lin Dan became the national hero overnight.
The Badminton World Championship
The 2011 badminton World Championship final was touted to be a historical match between Lin Dan & Lee Chong Wei, and it certainly lived up to the expectation. The Malaysian started strong and won the first game. Lin Dan, who was going for his fourth world championship, dug deep and beat Lee Chong Wei in the next two games. Final score 20-22, 21-14 & 23-21.
Second Olympics Gold Medal
Winning a gold medal at the Olympics is a dream for many badminton players, but winning twice in succession is unthinkable. Four years on since his first gold medal, Lin Dan once again faced the brilliant Lee Chong Wei. Lee again started well and took the first game. Super Dan showed extraordinary courage and power to blast back, the Chinese successfully defended his Olympic crown with a victory in the next two games 15-21, 21-10 & 21-19.
In the last 18 years, there have been many such matches played by this badminton great. But for now all that everyone has to do is look back and cherish all of his incredible moments on the court.