Two-Time Olympic Badminton Champion Lin Dan Retires after 20 Years

China’s badminton legend Lin Dan announced his retirement via social media on Saturday, ending his 20-year-long career with the Chinese badminton team.

“At the age of 37, my stamina and personal injuries made it impossible for me to be together with my fellow teammates,” Lin said on Weibo. “There are disappointments, but I am grateful (for my experience with the Chinese national team). Moving forward, I hope to spend more time with my family, and will look forward to the coming challenges.”

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The Chinese Badminton Association (CBA) approved Lin Dan’s application to retire, citing the player’s personal preferences and his current physical readiness. Speaking of Lin’s retirement, CBA President Zhang Jun said he hopes Lin will continue playing badminton and promoting the sport in other ways. Zhang is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist, winning back-to-back Olympic titles in 2000 and 2004 with his partner Gao Lin in the mix-doubles events.

Lin was first shortlisted to the Chinese junior team in 2000, then began his professional career in badminton in 2001. Lin won his first international adult competition medal at the Busan Asian Games in 2002. The Fujian-born badminton player gradually became the key player for team China. ESPN reported that Lin had 666 career wins. In addition to winning two consecutive gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Olympics, Lin also won five world championship titles, six Thomas Cups, and five Sudirman Cups, making him one of the best badminton players in the history of the sport.

Malaysian badminton player Lee Chong Wei also congratulated Lin on his successful career.

“Please believe that all the laughter, tears, and promises are an unforgettable diary,” Lee said on Weibo. “To my greatest opponent @LinDan, I am proud of you.”

Lee and Lin competed against each other three times in the Olympics. Lin defeated Lee in the final match in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Lee was able to defeat Lin in the 2016 Olympics semifinal but fell short in the final match against Chinese badminton player Chen Long.

Lin’s retirement comes after increasing uncertainties of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. According to South China Morning Post, an extended Olympic qualification period will be introduced at the beginning of 2021. In addition to the delay of Olympics, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a number of tournaments to be postponed, canceled, or suspended.

In addition to his success in badminton, Lin was also one of the Chinese athletes with the highest incomes. Sina Sports reported that Lin had a 10-year 100 million yuan ($14.2 million) deal with Yonex in 2015. In the same year, Lin was reported to have an annual income of 27.5 million yuan. While Lin’s income suffered significantly following his extramarital scandal in 2016, the Chinese badminton player is still associated with 11 companies in various industries. He also appears on trending Chinese entertainment shows on a regular basis. But Li is unlikely to become an entertainment star. Chinese athletes such as Tian Liang and Liu Xuan successfully transitioned into the entertainment industry, but it remains unusual for retired athletes to adapt to a different industry.

Through his popularity and recognition within the country, Lin is looking for new business opportunities after retiring from badminton. The two-time Olympic gold medalist attempted to create his own underwear brand. While receiving some initial success, the brand later failed to survive in the competitive market. To maximize his chance in succeeding in the business world, Lin will likely to engage in businesses that are associated with badminton.