London Olympics: Showdown: Lee Chong Wei vs Lin Dan

FORMER world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei has long been the eagle in the dragon’ s shadow. Always made to feel like the usurper of the throne, which many felt rightly belonged to China’s Lin Dan.

Chong Wei has always soared high only to be eclipsed by Lin Dan at badminton’s majors – losing to the China ace in the final of both the Beijing Olympics and world championships. The Malaysian now has a golden chance to embellish his reputation by beating Lin Dan in the London 2012 men’s singles final.

That will go a long way towards making amends for the years of playing second fiddle to Lin Dan.

Chong Wei will never get another chance as both are playing in their last Olympics.

Chong Wei and Lin Dan may stay on for another year or two but no other tour nament will be more significant than their battle royale at the London Games today. 

Fact File

LEE CHONG WEI

D.O.B: Oct 21, 1982

HOMETOWN: Bukit Mertajam

WORLD RANKING: 2

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Beijing Olympics silver medallist, 2011 World Championships runner-up, 2010 Asian Games runner-up, All-England champion twice, Commonwealth Games gold medallist.

 

LIN DAN

D.O.B: Oct 14, 1983

HOMETOWN: Longyan, Fujian

WORLD RANKING: 1

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Beijing Olympics gold medallist, four-time world champion, Asian Games gold medallist (individual once and team twice), Thomas Cup (five times), Sudirman Cup (four times), All-England (five times).

 

Head-To-Head

LEE CHONG WEI VS LIN DAN (9)-21)

● 2012

ALL-ENGLAND: lost 19-21, 2-6 rtd

KOREA OPEN: bt 12-21, 21-18, 2 1-14

 

● 2011

CHINA OPEN: lost 21-19, 12-21 1, 1-21

HONG KONG OPEN: lost 16-21, 14-21

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: lost 22-20, 14-21, 21-23

ALL-ENGLAND: bt 21-17, 21-17

KOREA OPEN: lost 19-21, 21-14, 16-21

 

● 2010

JAPAN OPEN: bt 22-20, 16-21, 21- 17

THOMAS CUP FINALS: lost 17-21, 8-21

ASIAN GAMES FINAL: lost 13-21, 21-15,0 1-21

 

● 2009

CHINA MASTERS: lost 20-22, 21-15 ,7-21

SUDIRMAN CUP: lost 16-21, 16-21

SWISS OPEN: bt 21-16, 21-16

ALL-ENGLAND: lost 19-21, 12-21

 

● 2008

CHINA OPEN: lost 18-21, 9-21

OLYMPIC GAMES: lost 12-21, 8-21

THOMAS CUP FINALS: bt 21-12 ,21-4

SWISS OPEN: lost 13-21, 18-21

 

● 2007

HONG KONG OPEN: lost 21-9, 15-21 ,15-21

JAPAN OPEN: bt 21-19, 21-15

CHINA MASTERS: lost 21-15, 21-14 ,21-15

SUDIRMAN CUP: bt 21-17 ,21-17

 

● 2006

HONG KONG OPEN: lost 19-21, 21-8, 16-21

MACAU OPEN: lost 21-18, 18-21, 21-18

TAIWAN OPEN: lost 18-21, 21-12, 21-11

MALAYSIA OPEN: bt 21-18 ,18-21 ,23-21

ALL-ENGLAND: lost 9-15, 15-10, 14-17

 

● 2005

HONG KONG OPEN: lost 17-15, 15-9, 9-15

MALAYSIA OPEN: bt 17-21 ,9-15, 15-9

 

● 2004

THOMAS CUP QUALIFIERS: lost 15-3, 13-15, 6-15.

 

 

Tale of the tape

PERSONALITY

CHONG WEI
It was a humble beginning for Chong Wei. From a mischievous boy, he worked his way up as one of the most disciplined of players. It took him a while before he finally gained some respect as far as his performances were concerned. He is friendly and likes to joke around with his peers and his opponents . He shows respect for others and is well known as a fun loving person. However, of late, he has built a wall around him and is not as approachable as before. But that is understandable as his popularity has drawn unwanted attention from many parties.

LIN DAN
He started off as an arrogant player on and off court, earning the reputation of being the “bad boy” of badminton. He does not really mix around with others. One can find the others in the China team hanging out together after matches but not him. On court, he plays with sheer confidence and cockiness. However, as he became more established, especially after winning all the major tournaments, there has been a change in his demeanour. He has become friendly and more open. He is more generous with his praise of his opponents and shows respect to others.

PHYSICAL CONDITION

CHONG WEI
The Malaysian is a super fit player. From a scrawny boy, he has transformed himself into a stronger, muscular player. He is disciplined in training and does not take short cuts. He is punctual for training and follows instructions from his physical trainers and coaches diligently. He also possesses good speed and power but is, sometimes, let down by unforced errors.

LIN DAN
Likes to take off his shirt, displaying his rippling muscles, to celebrate his victories. Is reputed to be one of the hardest working shutt lers around. Lin Dan is a rarity in China’s singles department as he seems to have lost none his speed and power despite approaching 30. Usually, China players burn out relatively early due to the heavy physical regimen they are subjected to in training.

 

TECHNIQUE

CHONG WEI
The one area Chong Wei has a slight edge over Lin Dan is probably his netplay when he plays it to perfection. His playing style is aggressive and he has the fitness to match it. At his best, he can last the pace with Lin Dan and even turn the tab les on the Chinese superstar. He has some tricks up his sleeve too as he can switch very quickly from an explosive movement to a soft touch to catch his opponent s off guard.

LIN DAN
Started off as an aggressive player but, over the years, has added so much variety to his game that he has made it superbly unique. It is hard for others to penetrate his so lid defence, respond to his flurry of smashes or even read his crafty moves. He is the maestro of the ta ctical game. Most adaptable, as he won major titles even though the format kept changing. Amazing footwork and has the confi dence to execute all his moves well.

 

LIFESTYLE

CHONG WEI
Is the indisputable star of Malaysian sports. He easily takes home at leas t RM5mil a year through his winnings, bonuses, endors ements and sponso rship deals with the large chunk coming from Yonex. He is also enterprising, setting up his own badminton academy with several partners a nd coming out with his autobiography, comics and investing in property. Loves sports cars and currently owns a Nissan GTR and a Ferrari. He also drives a Land Rover. Mingles with the rich and famous and has earned several honorifics including a datukship. Plans to get married next year but has asked to keep the name of his future wife a secret for now.

LIN DAN
He is a megastar in his country. It is believed that he earns big bucks through endorsements and global sponsorship deals. Is brand ambassador for Red Bull, Gillette, Citroen and others. Is the prized catch of the Li Ning sports brand. Earns lucrative fees just to make an appearance at an event. Believed to earn not less than RM15 mil per year. Drives fancy cars and created a buzz when he purchased two sports cars – Porsche Panamera and Nissan GTR – at the same time. Is married to former China women’s singles star Xie Xingfang.

 

ACHIEVEMENTS

CHONG WEI
Is the king of the home tournaments and has shown his domination in the Malaysian Open by winning it eight times. Outside of Malaysia, his best performance is winning the All-England twice and coming close to nailing the world title before losing to Lin Dan in an epic final at Wembley last year.

LIN DAN
He has won it all – the Olympics, World Championships, Asian Games, Thomas Cup, Sudirman Cup, All-England and almost all the Open tournaments – not once but many times. It will be tough for his successors to emulate him – especially that of winning the world title four times.

 

MATCH TEMPERAMENT

CHONG WEI
Is mentally strong but can be inconsistent. Sometimes, even the s lightest distraction ca n trigger poor performances. Over the years though, he has learnt to have better control and composure and plays with more ease and confidence. The defeat to Lin Dan at the 2011 World Championships final after taking a 20-18 lead in the decider showed he still needed to work on this aspect of his game.

LIN DAN
Steely-minded and mentally strong on the court . He does not crack easily and is one of the most stable players on the circuit. There is nothing much that can stop him if he sets h is mind on winning. Comes back stronger after every defeat.

 

OVERALL ASSESSMENT

CHONG WEI
Has improved by leaps and bounds over the last 10 years and will end his career a s Malaysia’s most successful and decorated p layer. However, he will always be seen as having played second fiddle to Lin Dan. Despite holding on to his world No. 1 spot for a long period, Lin Dan was still considered the better player. Possesses good technique but tends to become inconsistent. Still, he will go into the record books as one of the greatest Malaysian players ever.

LIN DAN
Is the complete shuttler. The best player of his era, many say the best ever. His skills are amazing, breathtaking even at times and fans relish watching him play. He knows how to entert ain the crowd and his commitment is admirable. The only stain on his career is probably the numerous walkovers he has given whenever it suited his team. With so many great players in the history of the game, Lin Dan has still managed to earn a stellar position among the best of them.

Courtesy of The Star