China’s two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan, announced his retirement on Saturday aged 36. It means that Lin, who won gold at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, will not compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which have been pushed back to next summer because of coronavirus. The end of Lin’s glorious career comes just over a year after the retirement of his great rival and friend, the Malaysian star Lee Chong Wei. The duo reigned over badminton for more than a decade and have only relinquished that hold in recent years as their powers waned.
“My family, coaches, team-mates, and fans have accompanied me through many peaks and difficult troughs,” he said in a post on China’s Twitter-like Weibo that quickly went viral.”Every forceful jump was a desire for victory. “I have dedicated everything to this sport I love.” Lee called his nemesis Lin “my greatest opponent”. “Please believe that the laughter, tears, and all the promises are unforgettable diary entries,” the 37-year-old Lee wrote on Weibo. “Proud of you,” he added.
As well as the Olympic golds, Lin was also a five-time world champion and long-time world number one. He earned the nickname “Super Dan” at the peak of his career. However, the left-hander’s career has tailed off in recent years as age and injuries took their toll. Just last year he rebuffed claims that he was about to retire following a series of first-round exits at tournaments. Lin always said he was determined to reach the Tokyo Olympics, but his ranking of 19 in the world and the postponement of the Games made that dream unlikely.
In Rio 2016 Lin lost in the semi-finals to Lee in what was a rare victory for the Malaysian on the biggest stage of all. Lin said on Saturday his body would not allow him to plow on in the unlikely pursuit of a third Games gold.”‘Persevere’, I said to myself in every moment of suffering, so that my sporting career could be prolonged,” he wrote on Weibo. “Rather than simply pursuing rankings as I did when I was younger, in these years, I have been wanting to challenge the physical limits of an ‘old’ athlete and practice the sporting spirit that I will never give up.