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July 8, 2020

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Home » Sports » Badminton

Lin retirement ends era of ‘China sports superstar’

The retirement of two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan signals the end of a golden era of Chinese sporting superstars, state media said yesterday.

Arguably the greatest badminton player of all time, the 36-year-old said on Saturday that he was bringing the curtain down on a career that also brought five world titles.

National Basketball Association All-Star Yao Ming and Olympic gold-medal hurdler Liu Xiang, both from Shanghai, as well as two-time tennis Grand Slam champion Li Na have all retired in the last decade.

“With the ‘Super Dan’ curtain call, people cannot help but sigh,” Xinhua news agency said.

“The era of the superstar that once belonged to Chinese sports has faded. When will the next Lin Dan appear? Or when will the next Yao Ming, Liu Xiang and Li Na appear?

“Where is the next Chinese sports superstar who will create a collective memory for us?”

The quartet were not just world leaders in their sport and popular in China, but also had “considerable influence in the international arena and became a window for the world to understand China,” Xinhua said.

Of prominent Chinese athletes left, women’s volleyball player Zhu Ting has the potential to rise to superstar level, the agency said, while disgraced swimmer Sun Yang “enjoys high popularity (in China), but unfortunately he is banned.”

The 28-year-old Sun is appealing against an eight-year ban for refusing to give a doping sample. The three-time Olympic freestyle champion’s career will effectively be over if he loses his appeal at the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

China has world champions in other sports, and finished third behind the United States and Britain in the medals table at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but they are not generally well-known.

Table tennis star Zhang Jike, another three-time Olympic winner, deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Lin, said the Oriental Sports Daily.

But at 32 his best days are behind him and as far back as 2016 he signalled his intention to retire, before taking a U-turn.

“When will the next Lin Dan and China’s next sports superstar appear again?” asked the daily. “This question may not be answered in a short time.”




 

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