Lin Dan. (AFP Photo)
BEIJING: China’s two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan, arguably the greatest badminton player of all time, 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 were 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 the sport for more than a decade and have only relinquished that hold in recent years as their powers waned.
Lin, who had something of a “bad boy” reputation during his younger days and has several tattoos, ends with 666 singles wins and a glut of medals.
“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.”
As well as the double Olympic golds, Lin was also a five-time world champion and a long-time former world number one.
Lin 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.
He always said that 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.
Lin had always maintained that he would try to make it a last Olympics hurrah in Tokyo in an unlikely bid for a third Olympic gold.
But he said on Saturday his body would not allow him to plough on.
“‘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 practise the sporting spirit that I will never give up.
“(But) my physical abilities and pain no longer allow me to fight alongside my team-mates.”