After the Olympics – 2 push on or 2 step down?

With the Olympics over, end of season and end of career plans take shape in the men’s singles top echelon. By Kira Rin.  Photos: Badmintonphoto The Olympics have come and […]

With the over, end of season and end of career plans take shape in the men’s singles top echelon.

By Kira Rin.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

The Olympics have come and gone, and with them, many trends have been broken, many new records have been set and new countries have added a shiny badminton medal to their count.  Barring the scandal, this year’s Olympics have seen the rise and falls of legendary players and the beginnings of new ones carving their path to the top.

In the men’s singles category, 2 Lees and 1 Lin created history as the first ever Olympic repeat semi-finalists.  Just like the previous Olympics before, Lee Hyun Il was cruelly denied his second chance at a medal by another Chen, rising star Chen Long.  Also, Lin Dan overcame a long and hard battle against rival – and fellow first-ever repeat finalist – Lee Chong Wei to set his name as the first ever men’s singles player to win a consecutive gold medal.  With the exception of Chen Long, it can be seen that all the other semi-finalists have retained their positions from last Olympics.

In the women’s singles, China once again had 3 semi-finalists going for a medal sweep.  This time around, in place of Maria Kristin Yulianti, Saina Nehwal stepped forth to lay her hands on the bronze, thus preventing China from completing a medal sweep.

Within the doubles category, Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng powered through to finally take their long coveted gold while previous mixed doubles gold medallist Lee Yong Dae had to settle for a bronze with partner Jung Jae Sung.  Women’s doubles has 2 new countries, Japan and Russia taking medals, while doubles specialist Zhao Yunlei became the 1st ever doubles player to take a double crown of Olympic gold.

What’s next?

With the Olympics over, it is now back to business for the players as they gear up for the upcoming tournaments of the rest of the year – or in some cases – for the rest of their careers.

With Peter Gade and Taufik Hidayat having played 4 Olympics (2000 – 2012), both players are retiring soon, to rest their much-exerted muscles and tired bodies.  For Peter Gade, this will probably be his last year playing, as he has organized a party to take place end of this year, where Lin Dan has been invited as the guest of honour to see the old Viking off.  Lee Hyun Il has already preceded Peter as another elder statesman taking his leave this year

Compared to Peter’s showy end to his career, Taufik has planned a gradual retirement, playing in certain tournaments until his last one, the 2013 Indonesia Open where the old eagle will fly back to his nest to nurse his young ones at the Taufik Hidayat Arena back in Indonesia, he recently told the Jakarta Globe.

Lin Dan, meanwhile, will be busy with wedding preparations with Xie Xingfang, while on the Malaysian side, Lee Chong Wei has gotten back together with Wong Mew Choo and he told Bernama recently that a wedding could be in the offing next year.  Lin Dan’s wedding ceremony is slated to be held near end of September in Beijing.  Among the top guests of honour are his three great friends and competitors, Peter Gade, Taufik Hidayat, and Lee Chong Wei.

Wedding bells and medals too?


Brides-to-be Xie Xingfang (left) and Wong Mew Choo

While there has been news of Lee Chong Wei hinting that 2013 World Championships may be his last match, post-Olympic Lee stated that he may put his retirement on hold, quoting that he may play for “at least 2 more years”.  He has also hinted at a 4th Olympic attempt, telling the Malaysian Insider, “If there are no injuries.  I will try for 2016”.

Should Lee Chong Wei head towards his 4th Olympics, Lin Dan has confirmed that he will follow his friend there.  He also dismissed rumours of retirement: “I never said I would retire.  All I said is I want to take a rest for a while.” As quoted by the China Daily, “I hope to set a new target during my rest, and adjust my physical condition.”

While it may be sad to see all these players go, take heart in the fact they may come back to the sport they know too well.  After all, Lee Hyun Il has already on his third retirement, having hung up his national team jersey in the spring of 2007 and post-Beijing.

Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei are 29 and 28 respectively; they may come out of, or simply delay, retirement for a final Olympic push, thus bringing up their Olympic participation count to Peter’s and Taufik’s level.

About Kira Rin