24 May 2019, Friday | 04:17am

China’s Lin Dan proves he’s not an over-the-hill shuttler


The 35-year-old badminton superstar from China sent out a loud and clear message to his sceptics when he returned to his winning ways at the Axiata Arena yesterday.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist and five-time world champion was in devastating form as he came from behind to outplay compatriot Chen Long 9-21, 21-17, 21-11 in a pulsating singles final that lasted one hour and 18 minutes.

Lin Dan’s last top-flight victory was ironically at the Malaysian Open in Kuching two years ago.

Pleased with the victory, Lin Dan believes he has finally put the difficult period behind him.

“My performance last year was not ideal. As a result I was under a lot of pressure and I had doubts about myself,” said Lin Dan, who pocketed US$49,000 (RM200,000).

“I have been playing for so many years, now that I’m at the tail end of my career, I hope everyone can understand that it’s normal my form fluctuates.

“I feel that I played well here because I was very determined, in good form and hungry for victory.

“I didn’t play at an exceptionally high level in this tournament, all I did was stick to my strategy and play to my strength.”

Just like in the 2015 final, also against Chen Long at the same venue, Lin Dan had the majority of Malaysian fans rooting for him.

This time, he did not disappoint them as he turned the tide around after his opening game defeat.

“As teammates, we know each other’s game very well. I think we played a very high quality game, but there had to be a winner and a loser.”

Yesterday’s finale was extra special when 12-time winner Lee Chong Wei gave out the prizes.

Lin Dan and Chen Long invited Chong Wei up to the podium to pose for photographs.

“It was certainly a special moment to receive the prize from him (Chong Wei),” said Lin Dan.

“He’s looking great and healthy. I’m sure we’re going to meet again on court soon.”




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