Lin Dan - Badminton
Born on October 14, 1983 in Longyan, Fujian, China, Lin Dan is a professional badminton player who will be representing China in the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. No stranger to the limelight, Dan has won 20 gold medals in his career, at the Olympics and other championship events, and has single handedly helped badminton reemerge as an incredibly popular sport throughout Asia.
On a world scale, badminton isn’t celebrated with the same gusto that it is in Asian countries, specifically China. But as an event in the Olympics, every competing country takes it incredibly seriously. Try as they might, however, no other country has been able to produce another badminton player with as much drive, talent and clutch performance capability as Lin Dan.
Long before Lin Dan became China’s equivalent (and badminton’s equivalent) to an athlete like Michael Phelps, he was a pianist in training per the insistence of his parents. But by the time Dan was 5 years old, he had already shown an aptitude for playing badminton. When he was 13, Dan joined the People’s Liberation Army’s sporting faction and has been playing as part of China’s national team since he was 18.
Unlike a lot of athletes on the world stage, Lin isn’t shy or reserved. In fact, he’s very fiery and temperamental. He wants to play the game his way, and contrary to some of his coaches’ opinions, Lin Dan’s way flat-out works. In 2000, he burst onto the scene by winning the Asian Junior Championships, and although he was badly beaten in his first professional title match in 2001, Dan would bounce back and take gold at the Korea Open in 2002.
2004 was a standout year for Dan. He helped his team win the qualifying round of the Thomas Cup, and then went on to win the Swiss Open, the All England Open, and then ultimately he helped his team claim victory in the Thomas Cup. In 2005, ranked #1 in the world, Lin continued his winning ways until losing a final in the All England match. This prompted a short string of loses for Lin, but he would bounce back in a big way.
In 2006, Lin won six individual titles, recaptured the All England Open crown, and even won his first world championships. And while Dan would lose his first big match of 2007, he immediately rebounded to win the Korea Open, the German Open, the All England Open, and then the China Masters. To top off this amazing year, Lin even repeated as world champion.
After a fight with is coach in 2008 that would create some turmoil, Lin and his Chinese team were off to the Olympics in Beijing. Entering as the top seed, Dan lived up to expectations by absolutely crushing the competition en route to a gold medal.
Post Olympics, Lin has continued to win multiple badminton titles in impressive fashion. When he does lose, he has a knack for coming back even stronger. And approaching the 2012 Games, he is the odds-on favorite to win gold.
- 2004 Thomas Cup – Gold
- 2005 World Cup – Gold
- 2005 World Championships – Silver
- 2006 World Cup – Gold
- 2006 Thomas Cup – Gold
- 2007 Sudirman Cup – Gold
- 2008 Olympic Games – Gold
- 2009 World Championships – Gold
- 2010 Asian Games – Gold
- 2011 World Championships – Gold
- 2012 Summer Olympics – Gold