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Chinese shuttler Lin Dan wins fifth All England Open title

03-12-2012 13:57 BJT

BIRMINGHAM, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Chinese badminton star Lin Dan snatched his fifth title at All England Open on Sunday after his archrival Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia withdrew from the final due to injury.

The glitzy pair both breezed through the tournament all the way to the final without dropping a game. When they marched into the arena, audience seethed, rattling inflatable sticks, waving national flags and shouting their names.

Dubbed the "dream final", or confrontation between giants, Lin and Lee proved their capacity in the first game when these world top shuttlers tied for several times, from 1-1 to 19-19. Slipped down for a few times, they tried their best not to make mistakes while lashing out swift killing smashes. With crowds holding their breath, their point differences never exceeded four.

When it came to the end of the match, the World No. 1 Lee lapsed by striking the ball out of bounds. The left-handed Lin gained a temporary lead.

In the second game, the second-seeded Lin maintained his momentum by dominating the field 3-0 and 6-2, before Lee, the defending champion who was seeking a hat trick at All England Open, decided to quit.

"I have my left shoulder injured on Friday," said the regretful Lee. "Inspite of the injury, I still wanted to get the trophy so I persisted till today. But my opponent now is Lin who is too hard to beat. Considering the upcoming Olympics, I made this hard decision."

Lin showed his understanding. "It is a pity but I understand that to him, Olympics could be more important," said the 29-year- old badminton icon. "I hope he could recover quickly."

BEYOUND THE TROPHY

After Lee's announcement, Lin approached him to shake hand with the persevering man. The pair then exchanged their T-shirts like what was always seen on the soccer field.

Lin had been competing against Lee, who was just one year older than him, since more than a decade ago when they were in youth matches.

"We are too familiar with each other, without any secrets in terms of skills and strategies," the Chinese player said.

They had met each other 27 times in world class badminton matches, among which Lin won two thirds of them.

"However," he said poetically. "Winning is not the paramount gold. There is something more behind a trophy or a medal."

PERSISTENCE OF AN ERA

Lin carved out his professional career in 2001. Dubbed "Super Dan" by his fans, he is the only player to win a fifth title in All England Open since 1977, and also among the a few to complete super "Grand Slam".

But he could never eclipse three other eye-catching names. Indonesian genius Taufik Hidayat, Danmark legend Peter Hoeg Gade and the respectable Lee. Together they were nicknamed the "big four" because of the dominance of these handsome young man in the badminton arena for a decade.

"How time flies!" Lin became emotional talking about his rivals. "I have changed a lot over the years, from eagering to win a title to enjoying the matches, because you never know next time, who will still be in the arena and who will leave."

With the word "leave", he meant retirement. While Hidayat said he was "no longer young", Lin and Lee had hinted that the 2012 London Games "might be" their last Olympic show, and the 35-year- old Gade had planned to retire in the end of this year. One could see curtains beginning to be lowered for the "big four" era.

"Each time I am playing with these old fellows of mine, I cherish it as part of my good memory," he said. "We didn't start our career on the same day, and nor can we end sponteniously. When we were facing each other separated by the net, I know that no matter win or lose, it was my precious experience, because your high-level opponent could make your victory more valuable and your failure meaningful."

Mounting the podium in his classic orange shirt, Lin waved to the 8,000 fanatic spectators, while a Chinese song sang by himself resonated in the British stadium.

"Are you living an ordinary life but having a fire in your heart? Or maybe lost yourself in the pursuit, but not the color of dream?" the lyric read. "Let's just enjoy the freedom along the way towards success, and grasp our dreams, never let go."

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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