Lin Dan is the new Olympic champion after he trounced Lee Chong Wei in the most comprehensive manner. China finished their campaign with three gold to bring their total haul at these Games to seven medals.
But the day belonged to Lin Dan (featured image). With question marks raised on his form after his performance at the Thomas Cup finals in Jakarta last May, Lin Dan proved it beyond doubt that he is the best badminton player in the world by giving a lesson to Lee Chong Wei, who was supposed to be the only one able to match the Chinese.
He allowed Chong Wei only 12 points in the first game and eight in the second as he wrapped up the match, and gold medal No 3 for China in 41 minutes.
In fact, Chong Wei was lost for words to explain his defeat.
“I have no excuse to have lost this match. He just played better,” said Chong Wei, desperate yet trying to keep his legendary smile. For Lin Dan, “it was just the best match of my entire career, of my whole life”.
The 25 year old Chinese, who prepared for his home Olympics since four years ago, vowed, at that time, to come back and win at home. He kept his promise. With ease, with class, with an impressive power and incredible talent.
Lin Dan could not dream of a better start in this game. Deciding to play fast, aggressive from scratch, Lin put a lot of pressure on his opponent from the very first point. A bright strategy as Lee Chong Wei seemed already having difficulties to cope with the pressure of the match itself on top of the 5000 roaring crowd.
Lin was attacking cleverly, very fast, then moving forward to the net, apparently familiar with Chong Wei’s defense. He might have scored 6 or 7 points alone throughout the match on this type of double attacks. It made Chong Wei feel even more under pressure. Lin led 13/5, then 16/8, then again 20/10 before closing the first game 21/12.
Such big margins had been seen previously in the week with the wind advantage and one thought that it would then be Chong Wei’s turn to take the second one once players changed courts.
But again it was wishful thinking as Lin Dan raced to a 1/11 lead which all but killed Chong Wei’s hopes of qualifying for the Games.
Misbun Sidek was taking notes, as always, hoping that the 11 point break would give him the opportunity to encourage and give his protégé some strength to come back, but coming from 1/11 against Lin Dan at this very moment was just mission impossible.
The Chinese rolled onto certain success with his usual assurance but also portrayed a new face that he was probably hoping to show to his younger fans : humble and polite towards the officials. He apologised also on many occasions to his opponent for having quickly reacted after a close call. He looked at the giant screen on few occasions, and then, realising he had been misjudging, held in hand up in the air towards his opponent in excuse, showing respect in spite of the score.
Lee Chong Wei showed only glimpses of his natural talent. He performed amazingly on three or four occasions in the match and give an indication to the fans on what the fans were missing had Lee played his usual standard.
“I have waited for this gold for 4 years. Playing in China, my motherland, I was feeling a lot of pressure before the match and I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t expect to win like this. It’s a wonderful feeling to have won here. As I didn’t know what to expect, I hadn’t planned on what to do to celebrate, so I just let it go,” said Lin, before telling a tale to the international audience about how he had become more matured within the last four years.
Lee Yong Dae Shines
Earlier in the evening, the 5000-strong crowd of the Beijing University of Technology stadium discovered – or rediscovered as they are clear fans – a young boy named Lee Young Dae. Lee simply made the world’s best pair look like amateurs in the final of the mixed doubles.
And for double World Champions Nova Widianto and Liliyana Natsir, it meant that they were also given a lesson of badminton helped by an inspired Lee Hyo Jung. Up and down, in the back and in the front, Lee was all over the place. He left absolutely no chance to his opponent to take the control of the rallies, with defenses which came back flat and quick even on Widianto’s strongest attacks.
The first game went by quite quickly, while the second was in clear favour of the Koreans as well, with only a hitch of suspense towards the end of the match when the Indonesians started catching back, but there was no more will nor chances for them to match the mighty Koreans, who struck Gold in the mixed doubles with the score of 21/11 – 21/17, four years after getting the same medal in the Men’s double with Kim and Ha.
Lee Dong Soo, who was playing against this formidable pair at the time hence scooping Silver, was tonight on the Korean bench and the first one to congratulate his team mates: “There was a period when badminton in Korea was very disappointing and it felt like the world had stopped. This Gold medal has broken the ice for us and I feel elated about this achievement as this is the greatest gift for us,” said Lee.
Korea was then to celebrate its third medal, one in each event, in Mixed Doubles (Gold), Women’s doubles (silver) and Bronze (men’s doubles).
Yu Yang/He Hanbin Triumph
An Olympic medal is never won until the last point is over. This is what Vita Marissa and Flandy Limpele learned the hard way when they failed to turn a match point into a Bronze medal in the first match of the evening, against Chinese youngsters He Hanbin and Yu Yang.
The match was a thriller, in a boiling arena, packed with Chinese flag flying, and the home pressure may have made the difference towards the end as experience clearly didn’t. Vita and Flandy, obviously used to playing at top level for some years now, seemed to collapse under pressure during the last few points.
He and Yu proved that taking risks in key points is sometime a good idea. Flandy smashed once in the net, before Vita pushed back a return from a drive too low, and that was it of Indonesia’s chances to shine for their National day. The Chinese won the match finally 19/21 – 21/17 – 23/21.
The men’s single victory ceremony was the end of the badminton session with its share of emotions and once again, a wonderful event, which only the Olympics can offer. The greatest memories will remain in all the athletes’ minds as well as all the joyful and incredibly dedicated volunteers who made this event special.