Friday, June 24, 2011

Lin Dan

Lin Dan (born October 14, 1983 in Longyan, Fujian) is a badminton player from China. By the age of 27, Lin completed the "Super Grand Slam", having won all major titles in world badminton: Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cup, Thomas Cup, Sudirman Cup, All England Open, Asian Games, and Asia Championships, becoming the first and only player to achieve this feat. He has been nicknamed "Super Dan" by his fans. In his early years, Lin was encouraged to learn piano by his parents, but chose to play badminton at the age of five. He joined the sports troop of the People's Liberation Army at the age of 13 and has been part of China's national badminton team since 2001 when he was 18. On April 10, 2008, he created controversy when he struck coach Ji Xinpeng in front of his teammates and reporters during the warm-up tournament ahead of Thomas Cup. The incident was reportedly triggered by Lin being unhappy with Ji's starting lineup for the tournament. Lin has been in a romantic relationship with Xie Xingfang, herself a former world champion badminton player, since 2003. They were quietly married on December 13, 2010 in Haizhu, Guangzhou. Xie initially denied but later admitted the news when reporters got the evidence. Lin reacted angrily towards the news and insisted that it was a personal matter between him and Xie.

Lin emerged as a winner in the 2000 Asian Junior Championships in both the team and boys' singles events. He was also a member of the winning Chinese team and a boys' singles semi-finalist in the 2000 World Junior Championships. 2001 marked the start of Lin's professional career. In his first final, at the Asian Badminton Championships, he was thrashed by compatriot Xia Xuanze. In 2002 Lin took his first title at the Korea Open. He was a member of China's 2002 Thomas Cup squad which defeated Sweden (5–0), Denmark (3–2), and Korea (4–1) to reach the semifinals. However, Lin didn't play in the semifinal tie against Malaysia, which saw China's team tumble to a 1–3 defeat. Lin participated in another four tournaments without coming close to victory. He was knocked out in the first round of the Singapore, and Indonesia Opens, second round of the Denmark Open, and third round of the China Open. In October Lin was defeated in the semifinals of the Asian Games team competition which directly blew China's hope of a gold medal. Lin started the 2003 season with a third round defeat in the All England Open. He reached a final later in the year at the Japan Open but was beaten by his compatriot Xia Xuanze once again. Lin then made his inaugural debut in the World Championships in Birmingham, England. He breezed past Per-Henrik Croona and Przemysław Wacha in the first two rounds, but was beaten by Xia again in his third round match. After the world meet, he was eliminated in the semifinals of the Singapore Open, third round of the Indonesia Open, and second round of the Malaysia Open. However, Lin ended the season strongly by capturing the Denmark, Hong Kong, and China Opens, and finishing runner-up at the German Open. Lin had a good start to 2004, earning the BWF's number one world ranking for the first time in February. He helped China win the qualifying round of Thomas Cup and then captured the Swiss Open. He won his first ever All England Open title by beating Peter Gade in the final. He reached the semifinal of the Japan Open before going off to Jakarta, Indonesia in May for the Thomas Cup campaign. Lin retained his number one world ranking during 2005, winning his second German and Hong Kong Open titles, as well as the Japan Open, China Masters, and World Cup tournaments. He also helped China recapture the Sudirman Cup when it shut-out both defending champion South Korea in the semifinals and Indonesia in the final.

Lin started the season by reaching the semifinals of the German Open, and had a same result in China Masters and China Open. He failed to win the Malaysia Open in June, which saw his opponent Lee Chong Wei had a superb display to save the title after a 13–20 down in rubber game, and also lost to Taufik Hidayat in Asian Games final. However, he won six individual titles in the season. He recapturing All England Open, won Chinese Taipei Open, Macau Open, Hong Kong Open, Japan Open, and his first world title after beating his compatriot Bao Chunlai in the final. Lin Dan entered 2007 with a loss to South Korea's Park Sung-hwan in the round of 16 at the Malaysia Open. A week later he captured the Korea Open by defeating Chinese teammate Chen Jin in the final. He went on to win the German Open and then the All England championships again, crushing compatriot Chen Yu 21–13, 21–12. In June, Lin Dan was part of Team China in the Sudirman Cup, held in Glasgow, Scotland. The Chinese team retained the cup after beating Indonesia 3–0 in the final. Later in the season Lin Dan defeated Wong Choong Hann of Malaysia and became the China Masters champion for 2007. In August, Lin Dan extended his reign as the world champion when he beat Indonesia's Sony Dwi Kuncoro 21–11, 22–20 in the final of the tournament held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Lin Dan thus became the first man since Yang Yang to win back to back world championships.Lin started the season with a defeat in the final of the Korea Open to Lee Hyun-il. It was a match filled with controversy as Lin had a scuffle with South Korea's coach Li Mao after a line call dispute. Lin refused to apologise and received no punishment from Badminton World Federation (BWF) after its probe of the altercation. In March he suffered another defeat to his compatriot Chen Jin in the final of the All England Open, which was followed by press accusations that Lin "gave" the match to Chen in order to increase Chen's ranking points for Olympic qualification. In the following week, Lin won his first Swiss Open. At the Asia Championships, Lin was again accused of helping his compatriot when his loss to Chen Jin in the semifinals ensured Chen's qualification for the Olympic Games. In March, Lin won his fourth All England title by defeating Lee Chong Wei, in only his first appearance since November 2008, but lost to the same opponent in the final of Swiss Open a week later. He then participated in the Sudirman Cup in which he helped China to a 5–0 victory against England and another clean swept against Japan and Indonesia. In the semifinals, it was another showdown between Lin and Lee Chong Wei in a tie against Malaysia, and Lin went on to win in straight games to set up a clash against Korea in the final. In the final, Lin had no trouble beating Park Sung-hwan, helping China to secure the Cup for the third time in a row without conceding a match to any opponent in the tournament. Lin started the season with failure to defend the All England Open title by losing in the quarterfinals, and had another quarterfinals exit in the Swiss Open. He only won his first seasonal title in the Badminton Asia Championships, which also marked his first title in the championships. Lin began the year with a withdrawal in the Malaysia Open's quarterfinals, which marked his third withdrawal in a row since late 2010. This action caused criticism mostly by Taufik Hidayat, who wanted the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to investigate. His mother denied that he retired on purpose, and cited he had a waist injury. However, he sprang back to win the first ever million dollar badminton tournament, Korea Open, a week later. He then won the German Open, beating his compatriot Chen Jin in the final. However, Lin's hope to become the first player to win five All England titles in the open era was dashed when he was defeated by Lee Chong Wei in the final. He then won his second Asian Championships in April on a day which saw China sweep all five titles. Lin helped China to a fourth consecutive Sudirman Cup title in May, defeating Denmark 3–0 in the final. In June, Lin withdrew from the Singapore Open final due to gastric flu, this drew the jeers from fans in the stadium.

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