Possibly the greatest badminton player of all time was christened “Super Dan” way back in 2004. Just how great he was going to become over the next 16 years, nobody could imagine. The Longyan-born Chinese sportsman had completed the impossible sounding ’Super Grand Slam’ by the age of 28: winning all of the nine major badminton tournaments available – including the Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cup and other ‘majors’ of the sport. He remains the only player, male or female, to achieve the feat.
He has been world champion five times: Madrid 2006, Kuala Lumpur 2007, Hyderabad 2009, London 2011 and Guangzhou 2013, but his greatest moments came at the Olympic Games.
In his home nation for Beijing 2008, Dan became a national superstar. He got through to a final against his big rival Lee Chong Wei, from Malaysia, who he demolished 21-12, 21-8. The home crowd went wild to salute one of their heroes of the Games.
Four years later, he repeated the feat. He once again faced the brilliant Lee in the final – and lost the first game of the gold medal match, too – but showed extraordinary courage and power to blast back and retain his Olympic title. He was the first male athlete to manage the feat.
“If you play a match, then you have to give it all to beat the opponent; there is no such thing as playing against a great or a non-great player.””
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