Lin Dan is a Chinese badminton player considered to be one of the greatest singles players of all time. He had won all nine major titles in the badminton world—Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cup, Thomas Cup, Sudirman Cup, Super Series Masters Finals, All England Open, Asian Games, and Asian Championships—by the time he was 28. Currently he is the only player to have achieved this feat and is therefore considered by many to be the greatest badminton player ever to have graced the sport. Nicknamed as “Super Dan” by Peter Gade, the player undoubtedly lives up to his name. Not only is he a two-time Olympic champion, but also the first men’s singles player to retain the Olympic gold medal by winning in 2008 and defending his title in 2012. Given his stupendous success it comes as no surprise that his fascination with badminton began quite early on in life. Having started playing the sport at five, he turned professional as a teenager. He is well-known for not just his extraordinary playing skills, but also for his fiery temperament and angry outbursts have made him a controversial figure. His flamboyant personality, excellent records on the badminton court, and the “Bad Boy” image make him a very popular sporting figure.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on 14 October 1983 in Longyan, Fujian, China to Gao Xiuyu and Lin Jianbin.
When he was young his parents wanted him to learn piano. But the young Lin Dan was more interested in playing badminton and chose to play the sport when he was only five.
He joined the sports troop of the People’s Liberation Army when he was 13 and started playing for China’s national badminton team when he was 18.
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He participated in the 2000 Asian Junior Championships and won both the team and boys’ singles event. He was also a part of the winning team in the 2000 World Junior Championships.
Playing as a member of China’s 2002 Thomas Cup squad, he helped his team defeat Sweden, Denmark, and Korea to reach the semifinals. But he could not play in the crucial semifinal which his team ultimately lost.
He made his inaugural debut in the World Championships in Birmingham, England in 2003. He won the first two rounds against Per-Henrik Croona and Przemysław Wacha respectively, but was beaten by Xia in the third round match.
The year 2004 was a good one for him. He was ranked No. 1 by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) for the first time in February. He won the Swiss Open and also the All England Open. He also reached the semifinal of the Japan Open the same year.
His phenomenal success came to a brief halt in late 2004. He lost in the quarterfinals of the Malaysian Open and was ousted early on from the Olympic Games.
He bounced back in 2005 and retained his world No. 1 ranking. Back to his old form, he won the German and Hong Kong Open titles, Japan Open, China Masters, and World Cup tournaments. In spite of all his successes, he was unable to retain his All England title and lost to Chen Hong.
In 2006, he won six individual titles including the All England Open, Chinese Taipei Open, Macau Open, Hong Kong Open, and Japan Open. He also played in the German Open and the China Open, though in both cases he failed to win the title.
He again emerged the winner in the All England championship and was able to clinch the German Open title in 2007. He was a part of the team that played the Sudirman Cup and defeated Indonesia 3-0 to win the tournament. He also became the China Masters champion for 2007.
The 2008 season began with a controversial match in which Lin had a dispute with South Korea’s coach in the final of the Korea Open which he ultimately lost. However ,the year proved to be an eventful one for him as he won the gold in the men’s singles in the Olympic Games.
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He was again a part of the team that played in the Sudirman Cup 2009 and guided China to a 5-0 win against England. The Chinese team was in top form and effortlessly won the Cup for the third time in a row.
In 2010, following his first ever Asian Games gold medal, he became the first player to win all of the present major titles available to Asians in badminton, both individual and national team.
After 2010 he began suffering problems because of a waist injury. In spite of this, he continued playing well. He participated in the 2012 summer Olympics and went on to clinch the gold medal in the men’s singles, thus becoming the first men's singles player to retain the Olympic title.
His ranking and performance suffered a lot due to his injuries and he could make only one appearance in 2013—at the Badminton Asia Championships. However, he could not play all the games because of his nagging health problems and withdrew from the championship after reaching the third round.
He is a two-time Olympic champion and five-time world champion, and the first and only player to win all nine major titles in the badminton world: Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cup, Thomas Cup, Sudirman Cup, Super Series Masters Finals, All England Open, Asian Games, and Asian Championships.
Awards & Achievements
He won the Eddie Choong Player of the Year award for two consecutive years in 2006 and 2007.
He was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) during the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.
Personal Life & Legacy
He became involved with Xie Xingfang, a former world champion badminton player, in 2003. Initially the couple kept their relationship a secret and got engaged in 2010. They got married on 23 September 2012.
He is famous for his multiple tattoos which have often created controversy.