Super Dan back on top of the world once more

Despite hardly playing over the last year, Chinese star proves too strong for old rival Lee

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 August, 2013, 8:58pm
UPDATED : Monday, 12 August, 2013, 3:24am

Flamboyant Lin Dan is back.

Despite hardly playing since winning the Olympic gold medal last summer, the Chinese ace proved he is still the best in the world.

As heavyweights China had one of their worst ever world championships, they had the 30-year-old veteran to thank for saving their pride with his victory over rival Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia in the men's singles final.

Playing only his second tournament in 12 months, Lin clinched a record fifth world title by overcoming Lee, who had to retire with Lin on match point. Lin won 16-21, 21-13, 20-17 in front of an excited crowd of 7,000 at Tianhe Stadium.

Lee, who had a tough three-game win the previous night in the semis, apparently suffered from muscle cramps in the closing stages and could not continue.

The result was a repeat of last year's London Games final, when Lin also prevailed in three games to snatch back-to-back Olympic golds; Lin also beat Lee in the last worlds in 2011.

Lee had to limp off the court before being stretchered into an ambulance heading for hospital.

"I have suffered similar cramps during training before and knew it would be difficult for him to continue," Lin said. "I went up to ask him if he would need any help.

"Both of us tried our best - there is no winner or loser. Badminton is a cruel sport. You don't just need skills and talent, you also need luck."

Lin admitted he had some doubts about whether to take part in the world championships. His world ranking has dropped to 286 because of his long absence.

"After the decision was made, I went through an extensive training programme as I want to show the fans the best side of badminton," said Lin, adding that he wanted to thank Lee for being part of his motivation to continue. "Indeed the fans should be happy as both players had an excellent performance. The result is not always the most important thing as both Lee and I are over 30 and I treasure every opportunity that we meet. "

The champion said his next target would be the National Games, which are due to start next month, adding it was still too early to consider the 2016 Olympics.

China won only two golds of the available five in Guangzhou; they haven't done so poorly at a world event since 2005.

The other gold came in the women's doubles. Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli, who were famously disqualified in London for throwing their group match, beat South Koreans Eom Hye-won and Jang Ye-na 21-14, 18-21, 21-8.

In the women's singles, world number one and Olympic champion Li Xuerui was stunned by Thai teenager Ratchanok Intanon, while in the mixed doubles, top seeds Xu Chen and Ma Jun lost to Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia.

Wang said the doubles win meant a lot after the Olympics incident. "It has been exactly one year since what happened in London and I am very happy we have proved the decision [to keep playing] was correct," she said."