Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia hugs Lin Dan of China after winning the badminton men's singles semifinal during the 2016 Rio Olympics, Aug 19, 2016. [Photo: Xinhua]
Long-time badminton rivals Lin Dan of China and Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia had one last Olympic showdown on Friday. Lee eventually overcame two-time Olympic gold medalist Lin 15-21, 21-11, 22-20.
Following the match, the two exchanged jerseys and hugged each other after 16 years of being both rivals and friends.
As a seasoned veteran, Lin has an understanding Lee's efforts and wished him good luck in the final.
"Super Dan" won two consecutive Olympic gold medals at the Beijing and London Olympic Games, twice beating Lee in the finals to mount the top of the podium.
China's Lin Dan (L) competes during the men's singles badminton semifinal against Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 19, 2016. [Photo: Xinhua]
During the 36 matches in which the two met previously, Lee won 11 - but none of them were important world competitions such as the Olympics or World Championships. This time, in Rio, history seemed to be repeating itself as Lin sailed to a first set win with ease, 21-15, in the semifinal match. However, Lee fought back in the second and forced the decisive third set.
Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei (R) competes during the men's singles badminton semifinal against China's Lin Dan at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 19, 2016. [Photo: Xinhua]
The two players went point for point until Lee managed to pull away at 20-17, but Lin saved triple match points to level the score at 20-20. Lee eventually withstood the pressure by taking the final two points to claim the long-awaited victory.
"I feel proud for both of us," said Lee, "We can still compete together with young shuttlers at the age of 33. This is our fourth Olympics. It's an honor to represent my country."1 2 3