London 2012: Lin Dan: ‘I was just an ordinary kid like anyone else’

“Inspiring A Generation” is the theme of the London 2012 Olympic Games and 2008 Men’s Singles gold medallist, Lin Dan, certainly epitomizes this. He shares his thoughts on the London 2012 Olympic Games and his hopes for the future of badminton.

As he continues to inspire those following in his footsteps, this four-time world champion – with countless trophies to his name and 16 million followers on his social media account –  has come to London to defend his Olympic crown.

BWF: What do you think of the Olympic Games?

Lin Dan: “The Olympic Games is a very special and different tournament. I consider it extremely lucky for any country to win five gold medals in one tournament, and more so at the Olympic Games. Winning a medal does not only require being able to compete at a high level but also having a bit of luck.”

BWF: How do you find London and the Wembley Arena?

Lin Dan: Last year was my first time playing at Wembley Arena. It has been refurbished so playing in that kind of atmosphere was great. I really like competing in Europe but I have not actually been to London many times though I attended the Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony there this year.

Regardless of my performance at the Games I am looking forward to checking out the city with my family because it’s the first time my parents and many relatives are visiting London.

BWF: What is the difference between going to Beijing 2008 as the top seed and going for you first gold medal and now in London 2012 defending your crown?

Lin Dan: I don’t feel any difference. I still want to win the gold medal this time as much as in 2008. Though I am the defending champion in London, I believe all my opponents will make it difficult for me to defend my title so I have prepared my best for the Games.

BWF: What do you think of the prospects of winning your second Olympic gold medal?

Lin Dan: Sometimes before I sleep at night, I would think about winning my second Olympic gold medal. However, I realized it was more important to remain focused on achieving my goal and not get carried away thinking too far ahead.

BWF: What do you think of China having three men’s singles competitors in London 2012?

Lin Dan: It is always nice having teammates competing alongside you and such camaraderie can contribute to one’s success. It may be an advantage but as I’ve said the Olympics is a special event with of a lot of pressure and attention, so regardless of having teammates battling with you or not, the likelihood of slipping up is high. I hope we will all be at our best.

BWF: Without home-ground advantage like you had in Beijing 2008, do you foresee a difference in how London 2012 will be for you?

Lin Dan: Playing at home provides more pressure than playing on foreign soil. At home, there’s a lot of people coming to support you and hoping you win the title. The voices in your head keep saying “You have to win” and that increases the pressure. Playing overseas can make it easier emotionally because you only have to focus on preparing and executing your plan properly which should result in a good outcome.

BWF: As an Olympic champion in badminton, what do you think of the global development and position of the sport and the role you may play?

Lin Dan: I believe the sport’s global development should be Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) top priority. Currently the sport has a solid foundation in Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and China but though these countries produce world champions like me, that’s not enough to get the global recognition the sport deserves.

I hope every country and player will work with the BWF to propel the sport towards the top internationally. Hopefully someday people will view badminton with the same high regard they have for tennis. It may take years but all of us in the sport have to play our part.

For instance, I attended the Laureus Awards ceremony earlier this year even though I knew I wouldn’t win anything. I chose to go because I believe, at the very least, through my presence badminton was represented. The global media and the public may have been curious who this little chap was; where he was from and what sport he plays.

It doesn’t matter if they didn’t know who I was but I believe these gradual steps help to promote badminton globally. My dream is that one day a badminton player will be nominated for the Laureus Awards. To me, that would be an indication the sport has reached the highest international level.

BWF: Many children and young people regard you as their sporting idol, what advice do you have for them?

Lin Dan: It’s normal for children to have sporting idols. When I was growing up, I too had my own. It’s heartening to know they see me as their hero because it tells me that they are willing to keep learning, working hard and growing.

What I would tell them is that I was just an ordinary kid like any one of them but I had a goal in life. That goal gave me direction – to work hard every day of my life. This is the only way for anyone to get where they want to in life.

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