Enigmatic, Controversial, Genius, Shocking, Greatest Ever. Words that surround the career of the Chinese superstar and current Olympic champion Lin Dan and divide fans like no other player in badminton. At just 28, he has won every major honour that his discipline can offer him several times over, all that remains is a second Olympic gold to cement his place as the greatest ever player.
On the court, there is nothing quite like Lin Dan in full stride. His victory over his rival Lee Chong Wei in Beijing four years ago was perhaps the single greatest performance we’d ever seen on a badminton court but there is the other side to Lin Dan, the arrogant and petulant side that divides fans of the sport.
An incident in the 2008 Korean Open final that resulted in Lin Dan going match point down after a poor line call resulted in an altercation between the coaches and Lin Dan having to be restrained by BWF officials. His outburst and then assault of the Chinese coach Ji Xinpeng just three months before the Beijing Olympics in 2008 had fans and critics alike demanding that he be withdrawn from the Thomas Cup team and then he shouldn’t participate in the 2008 Games at all.
Few people question his ability on the badminton court, already a 4-time world champion at just 28 years old and talk of retirement should he claim his second gold medal in London has quietened over recent months but the possibility looms that “Super Dan” might have his final swansong in Wembley Arena.
Would A Gold Cement His Legacy?
Nobody has ever defended an Olympic gold in the men’s singles, just like nobody has had as much success as Lin Dan within the sport. A gold medal cements his place as the greatest player of this generation. The critics will claim that Lee Chong Wei has been just as successful, but the lack of world and Olympic titles tilts the argument to Lin Dan, even more so with a second gold in London
Can Anyone Stop Lin Dan?
The biggest question going into the men’s singles is Lee Chong Wei and his ankle injury. A 100% fit Lee Chong Wei would have been a genuine contender for the gold medal but it is unknown as to what standard of fitness and confidence Lee Chong Wei has in his ankle or in his Olympic hopes. Even then Lin Dan holds a 19-9 record over Lee Chong Wei going into the Olympics, winning four of their last five meetings.
Will This Be Lin Dan’s Final Tournament?
Lin Dan himself has denied that he plans to retire as recently as 3 weeks ago but this is almost certainly his final Olympics. His playing schedule has slowly decreased over the past few years, just as his list of withdrawals and retirements has increased also. He has promised another year after the Olympics, which means that there is life after the Olympics for one of the greatest rivalries within the game.