China's badminton superstar Lin Dan announces retirement

He won every honour in the sport; accolades roll in from his great rival Lee Chong Wei

Lin Dan will not be competing in the next Olympics in Tokyo. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (XINHUA, AFP, REUTERS) - China's two-time Olympic badminton champion Lin Dan announced his retirement in a social media post on Saturday (July 4), thanking his family and fans.

The news means that the 36-year-old, who took golds at the Beijing and London Games, will not be competing in the next Olympics in Tokyo.

The Chinese badminton great, fondly called "Super Dan" by fans across the world, announced his retirement on social media by ending his glorious 20-year national team career.

"After 20 years, I have to say goodbye to the national team. It is very difficult to speak it out," he said on social media platform Weibo.

According to the Chinese Badminton Association, Lin submitted a formal retirement application a few days ago.

Given his personal preference and his current situation, the national badminton national team accepted his retirement.

"I've dedicated everything to the sport I love. My family, coaches, team mates and fans have accompanied me through many happy times and difficult moments," the Chinese media quoted Lin as saying in the retirement announcement.

"Now I'm (nearly) 37 years old, and my physical fitness and pain no longer allow me to fight side by side with my teammates," he added.

Lin, arguably the greatest player in the sport's history, also won all the major titles, including five gold medals at the world championships between 2006 and 2013 and six All England crowns.

The left-handed shuttler also helped China to six gold medals in the Thomas Cup men's team event and five titles in the mixed Sudirman Cup.

He also helped the national side to three gold medals in team event and two individual singles titles at the Asian Games.

Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei, who lost to Lin in both the Olympic finals in Beijing and London but beat him in the Rio 2016 semi-finals, hung up his racquet last year due to prolonged health issues.

The rivalry between Lee, who lost for a third straight Olympic final to another Chinese Chen Long, and Lin was considered legendary and the Malaysian paid rich tribute to his on-court nemesis through a poem on social media, accompanied by pictures of them together as children and adults.

"We knew this day would arrive, Heavy moment of our lives; You pulled down the curtain gracefully, You were king where we fought so proudly; Your final wave all four disappear, Within the hush of silent tear," the 37-year-old wrote on Twitter with the hashtag #lindan.

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