Lin Dan’s golden shoes the most exciting thing about China’s ‘boring’ Olympic badminton team – but blame pressure, not players
Squad are under pressure to win five gold medals, so have no time to become personalities like some of the mainland’s other Olympians
China’s Rio contingent has produced a number of star personalities, including “funny swimmer” Fu Yuanhui, the controversial Sun Yang and boxer Lu Bin.
The country’s badminton players, though, are under too much pressure to seek the limelight as they try to repeat their London feat of sweeping all five gold medals.
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Men’s singles athlete Lin Dan is the only player who has star quality with his off-court activities such as modelling, but even he is trying to keep a low profile – his only quirk being his golden shoes that he hopes brings “luck and happiness”.
“The badminton players are simply under too much pressure to perform, they can’t afford to have fun like some of the other Chinese athletes at the Olympics,” said one mainland journalist.
“They are a powerful team, but are getting a bit old and this may be their last Olympics, so they know they have to be at their best if they want to win all five gold medals like in London.
“As for Lin Dan’s golden shoes ... we don’t know much about that.”
Lin, seeking his third straight Olympic gold medal, got off to a strong start in the men’s singles with a 21-5, 21-11 victory over Austria’s David Obernosterer in group E.
Also winning in straight games was women’s singles hope Wang Yihan, who beat Ireland’s Chloe Magee 21-7, 21-12 in group P.
“This was my first match and I still feel like I need to get into the zone to get properly prepared,” said Lin. “At every Olympic Games anything can happen that nobody can predict, so I did my best to win.
“I flew from Chengdu in Sichuan province directly and I got my energy back very quickly. I am glad I could be into the Olympic Games action quickly. I woke up this morning and I felt very fresh and I knew I was ready to play.”
As for his golden shoes, he said: “They are shiny and attractive and people like looking at them. That’s why I wear them. They bring me luck and happiness.”