When the stakes are high, Lin Dan is seldom found wanting. The reigning World, Olympic and Asian champion has won all the coveted titles in badminton to be rightly acknowledged an all-time great.
Hailed as “Super Dan” by countless home fans, Lin was back as the world number one on June 21 after ending arch-rival Malaysian Lee Chong Wei’s 199-week stay as the game’s top-ranked player. Lin first earned the top spot in February 2004.
Last August, Lin won his fourth world title by beating Chong Wei in the same Wembley arena where the competition will be held during the London Olympics.
“I know I will have a tough fight on my hands in London. There is (Lee) Chong Wei and Peter (Gade) to watch out for, as well as my teammates. I will train very hard for London – just as hard as I did in 2008,” was how the Chinese looked ahead to his title-defence.
Chong Wei is yet to win the World championship, Olympics or Asian Games gold. Peter Gade, the aging Dane, is looking for the elusive Olympic gold. Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat is still searching for the All-England title. But Lin has no such ambition.
Lin remains the only player in the game to win all nine premier titles– Olympic Games, World championship, World Cup, Super Series Masters Finals, All-England, Asian Games and Asian Championship, besides playing his part to perfection for China in team events like the Thomas Cup and Sudirman Cup.
With Chong Wei nursing an ankle injury, the 28-year-old Chinese appears an overwhelming favourite to retain the Olympic gold. Known for his speed and power on the court, Lin enjoys favourable head-to-head records against all the leading players of the game.
He enjoys a 19-9 advantage against Chong Wei, leads compatriots Chen Long 5-0, Chen Jin 14-6 and the classy Dane Peter Gade 16-3.
This year, Lin has looked very convincing in his campaigns winning 29 of his 32 matches.
Besides the much-debated walkover over to teammate Chen Jin in the Asian championship, Lin’s defeats came against Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen in the Malaysia Open and Indonesia’s Sony Dwi Kuncoro in the Thailand Open in what turned out to be his last appearance before the London Games.
But in London, it will be tough to deny Lin.
Keywords: 2012 London Olympics