'Super Dan' back in the swing after lengthy break
Exactly one year after winning the Olympic gold medal in London last summer, Lin Dan returned to the international stage yesterday when he began his campaign at the world championships in Guangzhou.
"Super Dan" has hardly been seen on a badminton court since his success in London, but showed no signs of rustiness yesterday, as he thrashed Sattawat Pongnairat of the United States in just 27 minutes, reeling off a quick-fire 21-6, 21-9 victory in the opening round.
"I didn't slow down the pace at any point," Lin said. "My coach just told me to make sure I got to 21 points and that was my main goal."
This is only Lin's second major tournament since he won the Olympic gold on August 5, 2012. He also took part in the Asia championships in April, but withdrew after the third round through injuries. Lin needed a wild card to enter the world championships as his ranking has dropped to 100.
Lin saluted the partisan 6,000-strong crowd at the Guangzhou Indoor Stadium after yesterday's victory, but played down his chances of retaining the title he won in London in 2011. The world championships were not held last year because they would have clashed with the Olympics.
"I have spent a lot of time with my family over the past year and haven't played much. So I am really grateful for the overwhelming support I have received here. I know the fans would like to see me reach the final," said Lin.
"But I haven't played top-level matches for a long time and I don't want to put too much pressure on myself. I will take this tournament match by match to improve my form and see how far I can go. Indeed, in previous world championships and the Olympics, I had the same attitude, so that works for me.
"I want to show my opponents and also the fans that I treat badminton very seriously now and want to perform my best in every single match. I treasure every match I play, every single opponent I meet and the important thing is to play with a sincere attitude," he added.
Lin also asked his wife, Xie Xingfang, to play her part. Xie, a retired badminton world champion, was a guest commentator on television for Lin's match.
"I want Fang to tell the fans her husband is working hard and treating badminton very seriously," Lin quipped. "I also want her to praise my hard work."
Lin will meet Eric Pang of the Netherlands in the second round tomorrow.
Also in devastating form yesterday was second seed Chen Long, who overwhelmed Luka Wraber of Austria 21-2, 21-6. Top seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia cruised to a 21-14, 21-15 victory over Ireland's Scott Evans.
Sixth seed Hu Yun of Hong Kong crushed Niluka Karunaratne of Sri Lanka 21-13, 21-16 and will next take on Edwin Ekiring of Uganda. Wong Wing-ki, the 12th seed from Hong Kong, was beaten by Ajay Jayaram of India 22-20,17-21, 21-15.