Chinese badminton superstar Lin Dan called badminton a “cruel” sport after his arch-rival Lee Chong Wei had to withdraw with a cramp in the closing stages of their much-anticipated world title showdown.
Fans had been hoping for another classic final between the two badminton legends, with Lee gunning for his first world title in Guangzhou. But it was Olympic champion Lin who took the world men’s singles gold for the fifth time as Lee’s dreams of victory against his nemesis were shattered in the third game, with the umpire announcing he was retiring injured down 20-17.
He was taken to hospital due to cramp, according to a spokeswoman for the world body, BWF. “Both Chong Wei and I gave an excellent performance to the fans,” Lin said. “He got this cramp and it reminded me of my training — when you have that, you cannot move at all. From that moment we were not opponents any more. I really wanted to help and I went over to ask if he was OK. He didn’t want to give up.”
Newly-married Lin was returning after almost a year on the sidelines to spend time with his family and entered the tournament on a controversial wildcard because of his fan appeal, a move criticised by Lee. “When the coach told me I had a wildcard I was surprised because there were only two months to prepare — so many people doubted how far I could go because I hadn’t played world tournaments for half a year,” Lin said.
“But today’s match shows is your attitude that counts. Both of us tried our best — there is no winner or loser. Badminton is a cruel sport. You don’t just need skills and talent, you also need luck.” With China’s pairs losing in the mixed doubles and men’s doubles, Lin said it would have been “embarrassing” if he had not won his match in front of a home crowd.
“If I had lost we would only have won one gold medal and since we are in Guangzhou it would have been embarrassing,” he said. “But the good thing is I’m not the head coach.” With the air conditioning off in the second and third games, the temperature in the stadium soared and spectators fanned themselves furiously to cool down.
Players have been complaining about the “drift” of the shuttlecock because of the air conditioning throughout the tournament. When asked if the lack of air conditioning in the final had given him an advantage, Lin said: “When you fully focus in the match you don’t think too much about the atmosphere and the climate. If the temperature goes up, we’ll both sweat the same.”
Asked if he had noticed any effect on the shuttle during his clash with Lee he said: “The shuttle is very light so it will be affected by a lot of factors, especially wind and light.This kind of impact will not only affect the performance of the players but also the whole quality of the match.”
Sindhu-slayer wins gold
Thai teenager Ratchanok Inthanon took the women’s singles title by beating Olympic champion Li Xuerui 22-20, 18-21, 21-14 in a massive upset.
Ratchanok, 18, becomes the first ever Thai player to win gold at the World Championships after defeating 22-year-old top seed Li, who was gunning for her first world title.
The three-game thriller was a battle of technical skill and stamina, with Ratchanok pushing a more experienced Li around the court with a sophisticated repertoire of shots. Ratchanok came back from 19-12 down in the first game to clinch it by two points, with a grim-faced Li fighting back to take the second. But the supremely relaxed Thai looked physically and mentally stronger in the final game, holding on to a lead as Li threw everything at her.