Eleven years ago, Lin Dan participated in the Olympics for the first time as a 21 year old. It was in Athens 2014 and Lin Dan got eliminated in the first round, losing to Singapore’s Ronald Susilo. Four years later in 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Lin Dan emerged as a dominant force. He didn’t lose a single game on the way to the final and defeated Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei 21-12, 21-8 in the gold medal match. By then, Lin Dan had become the badminton supremo and it became nearly impossible for his rivals to beat him. In 2012 London Olympic Games, Lin Dan won the gold once again and his rival was the same Lee Chong Wei. This time, however, the Malaysian scared the Super Dan by taking the first game from him and stretching the contest to three games. In 2016, Super Dan will make his fourth Olympic appearance at Rio and he has already made his intentions known about attempting to win the men’s singles gold yet another time. It may not be so easy for Dan this time because of some loss of form and emergence of another Chinese Chen Long, who could challenge him head-on. Also the Malaysian Lee Chong Wei, who lost to Lin Dan in Beijing and London, would like to make amends at Rio. However, in the last week’s 2015 Yonex Open Japan, Lin Dan held his own; easily defeated old foe Lee Chong Wei in the second round and won the final in a tournament that saw seeded players falling in a heap.
Badminton was introduced to Olympics as a demonstration sport in 1972 Munich Olympics. In Seoul’s 1988 Games, badminton still appeared as an exhibition sport and made its competitive debut only in 1992 Barcelona Olympics. That year, men and women’s singles and doubles categories were included and mixed doubles featured for the first time in 1996 Atlanta Olympics. China has been the most successful nation in badminton, winning 38 medals; 28 of them were won by women in singles, doubles and mixed doubles events.
Lin Dan has ruled Asian badminton for a decade now. In between, he went on a self-imposed exile but after coming back, he has begun performing like he used to do earlier. For the Rio Games, Super Dan may face some heat from compatriot Chen Long, who is now world no.1 and looks rock solid. The authoritative way, in which Chen Long defeated Malaysia’s former world no.1 Lee Chong Wei in Jakarta’s world badminton championship, was like putting a stamp of unquestioned superiority. Lin Dan, on the other hand, suffered a set-back in World Championship, where he couldn’t progress beyond the quarter-finals, losing to world no.2 Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen. Lin Dan may also face resistance from Lee Chong Wei, who came back to badminton courts after an 8-month long doping ban. Both Lee and Dan are nearly equal in age and 2016 could be their last Olympics. Both are driven by the desire to perform at the big-stage. Lin Dan defeated Lee on his way to both his Olympic golds. But while Lee would aim to reverse that situation, Lin Dan will leave no stone unturned in trying to go for his third consecutive Olympic gold. However, both Lee and Dan will find the formidable Chen Long coming in their way at some stage.
Lin Dan, however, is a showman of extraordinary caliber, known for rising on big occasions. He is neither bothered about Chen Long’s rising form nor does he consider Lee as a threat. The Super Dan’s show at 2012 London Olympics was one of the highlights of the Games. He delighted his fans with passionate celebrations after winning the gold medal. Dan threw away his shirt to reveal his tattooed body and paraded around the court. He grinned and punched the air to signify his badminton supremacy and elicited tremendous response from those, who watched the gold medal match. Lin went to Rio in 2013 for the Laureus Awards and told media that the city was capable of hosting another unforgettable edition of the Olympic Games. The Super Dan added that Badminton would attract the undivided attention of the fans, particularly the Chinese community, who lived in Rio.