Lin Dan : The Story of The Greatest Badminton Player In History

On October 14th 1983, the People’s Republic of China gained a new citizen who would go on to rock the very foundations of the sport of badminton. Lin Dan was born that day in the Fujian province to parents of Hakka descent. Though still quite young, in the short space of his career he has managed to achieve almost legendary status. 

He has won all the major medals that the sport has to offer. From Olympics, All-England to World Championships, this man has won it all. Through a combination of prizes won and lucrative endorsement deals Lin Dan has amassed an estimated net worth of close to $20 Million.

By Antony Stanley from Gloucester, UK (Lin Dan, ChinaUploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Early Years

As a child, Lin Dan was encouraged to study music by his family, specifically piano. This did not go well with the young prodigy who showed an individualistic tendency from early on.

By the age of five he had made the decision to transfer his efforts from music to sport and having shown promise in badminton focused himself there. This turned out to be the right choice.

He started playing badminton at a national level in his early teens with military affiliated sports groups. In this capacity he won awards both on his own and with teams at the Asian Junior Championships.

The Unsteady Rise

At just 18, Lin Dan made the move to his country’s national team. While still quite new to professional playing, he took a shot at the Asian Badminton Championships.

This effort resulted in a very thorough defeat at the hands of Xia Xuanze. Not to be discouraged, Lin Dan won the Korea Open the following year. He continued to have wins, near misses and losses at this stage of his career while he honed his technique to perfection.

By 2006, Lin Dan had become a formidable contender in badminton and had earned the nickname of “Super Dan” from his fans for his speedy recoveries, creative left-handed game play and astounding string of wins. He took first place at the All England Open on four separate occasions.

This came alongside the three consecutive wins he gained at the World Championships up to 2009. Lin Dan also won the 2008 Beijing Olympics taking Gold Medal after a superb match destroying his nemesis Lee Chong Wei.

The Controversy

Lin Dan has been known for his fiery temper and lively personality as much as his athletic prowess. He is highly opinionated and has made controversial remarks about other players.

He has also reacted defensively in the past to what he sees as attempts at prying into his personal life. This was most evident following his very low key nuptials to Xie Xingfang, a fellow badminton player, in September 2012.

Though the two had been suspected to be linked romantically for the better part of a decade, he initially resisted requests for confirmation of this. He would continue to do so until the proof was out in the open. 

More seriously, Lin Dan was involved in a physical altercation with coach, Ji Xinpeng in 2008. This occurred in the presence of several witnesses including other athletes and members of the press.

In another incident he famously threw his racket and shoes in an emotional display following a match in which he was displeased with the umpire’s call. Later that year, rumors circulated that Lin Dan lost the Asia Championships purposefully to bolster his opponent’s chances at the Olympics.

The Comeback

In 2012, Lin Dan was victorious at the London Olympic Games. Not long after this he released his first book, an autobiography titled “Until the end of the world”. Injury forced him to withdraw early from the Badminton Asia Championships in 2013.

His skill and reputation earned him a wild card entry into that year’s World Championships which resulted in a spectacular win for him. After an almost year long break, Lin Dan returned to tournaments by winning the top rank in the China Masters in 2014.

Lessons we can learn from “Super Dan”:

  • You are an individual and you know the best course to set your life upon. Sometimes you may even know at age 5.
  • Controversy is inevitable in a life lived fully. Letting it define you is a choice.
  • Talent only leads to greatness when accompanied by hard work.
  • Failure is as temporary or as permanent as you make it.

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"If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants." Isaac Newton

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