Bengaluru, July 4: Badminton legend and China's two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan, has announced his decision to hang up his racquet, thereby ending a glittering two-decade long career.
The 37-year-old, who is the first men's singles player to retain the Olympic title, has literally won every major prize in badminton, some of them multiple times.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) former world No.1's trophy cabinet includes six All England champion crowns, five World Championship titles and two Olympic gold medals.
"I've dedicated everything to the sport I love. My family, coaches, team-mates and fans have accompanied me through many happy times and difficult moments," Chinese media quoted Lin as saying in the retirement announcement, which was made on the Weibo app.
Lin, who had won the Olympics singles titles in Beijing (2008) and London (2012) was planning to go for a third Olympic title at Tokyo.
But with uncertainty over the games looming large due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and with his fitness remaining a concern, Lin made up his mind to call it quits.
The end of Lin's career comes just over a year after the retirement of his great rival and friend, the Malaysian star Lee Chong Wei.
The duo who waged many close battles, reigned over the sport for more than a decade and have only relinquished that hold in recent years as their powers waned.
Lee paid glowing tribute to Lin.
"We knew this day would arrive, Heavy moment of our lives; You pulled down the curtain gracefully, You were king where we fought so proudly; Your final wave all four disappear, Within the hush of silent tear. #lindan," Lee tweeted from his official handle.
We knew this day would arrive,Lee Chong Wei (@LeeChongWei) July 4, 2020
Heavy moment of our lives;
You pulled down the curtain gracefully,
You were king where we fought so proudly;
Your final wave all four disappear,
Within the hush of silent tear.#lindan pic.twitter.com/gLJdpPTkB9
Lin, who earned the nickname 'Super Dan' at the peak of his career, finished with 666 singles titles and glut of medals.
However, the left-hander's career was on the wane in recent years as age and injuries took their toll.
He always said that he was determined to reach the Tokyo Olympics, but his BWF ranking of 19 and the postponement of the Games made that dream unlikely.
Lin had always maintained that he would try to make it a last Olympics hurrah in Tokyo, in an unlikely bid for a third Olympic gold.
But Lin admitted that though his mind was willing, body was not.
"Now I'm 37 years old, and my physical fitness and pain no longer allow me to fight side by side with my team-mates," Lin added.
(With inputs from Agencies)