(AFP) - Badminton legend Lin Dan was so jet-lagged from a European trip that he feared falling asleep on court at China's National Games, and fuelled retirement speculation by saying it was likely his last appearance in the event.
Regarded as the best badminton player of all time, the 33-year-old nicknamed "Super Dan" is at China's so-called mini Olympics just days after losing the final of the World Championships in Scotland.
After failing to win a sixth world crown on Sunday (Aug 27) in Glasgow, Lin hinted that it might be his last tilt at the world title.
Back in China, the two-time Olympic champion said: "This should be my last National Games. I have played at the Games for 20 years."
The tattooed Lin, who has fallen from the summit to fourth in the world rankings, was pushed all the way by little-known Sheng Xiaodong before struggling to an 18-21, 21-15, 21-7 first-round victory in the men's team event in Tianjin on Wednesday.
"Just now I'm afraid of falling asleep on the court," the jet-lagged Lin was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency afterwards.
"But this is a problem facing all of my team-mates of the national team who just took part in the World Championships. We have to overcome it."
The Chinese contingent in Glasgow went straight from Scotland to the northern China city of Tianjin for the Games, Xinhua said.