China Sweeps Gold in Men’s Badminton
Lin Dan, flexing.
In the badminton finals today, China took home the gold in both men’s singles and men’s doubles. Lin Dan defeated Chong Wei Lee 2-1, and the Chinese men’s doubles team beat the surprise finalists Denmark 2-0. China also took bronze in men’s singles, while South Korea got third in men’s doubles.
If you don’t read anything else in this post (and I can’t blame you, I’m a little sick of badminton myself), read this: if Chong Wei Lee had won gold, a Malaysian badminton enthusiast was going to award him a bar of gold worth over $600,000. Andrew Kann, a gold mine owner, put the 25-pound bar on the table in hopes of motivating Lee to beat longtime rival Dan. Apparently badminton fans in Malaysia and China are akin to UK basketball fans in Kentucky (from NYT):
His fans and Lee’s had done all they could to tilt the match. Asian fans at badminton matches carry on in ways that would have them tossed from Wimbledon. They chant in unison — variations of “Go, go” and the players’ names — not just between points but during points.
“You’ve got to understand, Lee is our national hero, because badminton is our national game,” said Rory Tan of Malaysia, who spoke with a Malaysian flag draped on his shoulders. “The way every kid in England plays football, every kid in Malaysia plays badminton.”
The fans from China are every bit as smitten, though there’s also a heartthrob element to the worship that Lin inspires.
“He’s so handsome!” said Jane Li, a native of China.
Handsome, indeed. Malaysia has still never won a gold medal, just so you know. Lee came extremely close, winning the first game 21-15, but failed to hold the lead and couldn’t finish a 19-19 tie in the third set.
Also, for some reason, I found this paragraph in the NYT write-up amusing:
There was a news conference afterward, but as with many of these trilingual affairs, it was hard to glean much information. Lin is marrying, and he plans to invite Lee to the wedding; Lee will retire before the next Olympics; and at 19-19, each player was hoping the other would make a mistake.
Olympic badminton survived a scandal, and the “Super Dan” swooped in to save the day. Not bad for a backyard barbeque sport. Still, I’m kind of relieved it’s over. Bring on some football, please.