Pic Credit : Getty Images.
We all know, for the past 16 years of battle in the game of badminton, the greatest rivalry is locked down by the Malaysian shuttler, Dato’ Lee Chong Wei and the Chinese shuttler, Lin Dan. In the most recent Olympic Semi-Finals that took part on the 19th of August, Lee Chong Wei has finally won his very first match against Lin Dan and proceeded into the Finals against Chen Long.
As this might be the ‘Lee-Lin’ battle appearing in the Olympic Games, Lin Dan wrote a text to Lee Chong Wei to express what he feels about his greatest opponent.
In Lin Dan’s letter, he said :
“The moment when you threw your racquet on the ground and performed a high jump with cheers and smiles after defeating me, I felt so happy and delighted for you deep down in my heart.
Both of us knew each other for 16 years. Those were the days where pioneers like Taufik Hidayat and Peter Gade was still competing, we was just a nobody. Nobody knew who we are and nobody really cares and pay attention to our game. Speaking about that, I won the first match that we both battle against each other and I never ever thought that the battle will continue 16 years along the road with you.
Both of us went through a lot of defeats and victory together but I have to be a little proud of myself that I am a little bit luckier to own more victory against you in big competitions. Later did I know, you are no longer somebody that I can evaluate by victory and defeat, you are a player who bares bigger responsibilities than I do and both of us deals with our own sweat and passion.
Also, a big thanks to you that I am not only address as any other champions but I am also warmly addressed as one of the players of the greatest rivalry, the ‘Lee-Lin’ rivalry. We are just like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi where the presence of each other represents the eternity of the rivalry.
It’s you who made and shape me to who I am today. I have took most of the biggest champions that is present in our industry but the reason I never back down and be lazy is because you always push me to the core. Competition would be much easier without you but your presence create challenges for me and always make me burst into sweat when I actually don’t have to.
Almost every meet-up we have is seperated by a net on the court and every single meet-up represents your effort and determination. Every single time I take a step forward, you will never back down and instead, u will choose to ‘tailgate’ me and never let me go. So when you train, I train, when you do not give up, I will also not back down.
Throughout all the processes, we turned old now and more young players are up in the battlefield to compete with us. Sometimes we text each other, talking about the young players about how tight their competition among each other is unlike us back then where there was only the two of us. Honestly, although there is only the two of us and it’s ‘lonely’ but I really enjoy the process because it is only you who can bring the best out of me.
Without realising, here we are, meeting in the Rio Olympics for our 4th Olympics together. In the quarter-finals of the Olympics, I met Srikanth Kidambi of India and it wasn’t an easy game for me but I pushed myself just because I know there is a promise I have to fulfil and the promise is to play against you,my greatest opponent.
On the 37th match we played against each other, I lost to you and honestly I have no regrets. You are my greatest rival and I am willing to lose to you. The moment when I hugged you, I really felt everything that happened for the past 16 years is just like a dream.
I will take this jersey and show it to my child in future that there was a man named Lee Chong Wei who was Daddy’s greatest rival and of course Daddy’s best friend.
I have never regret knowing you and playing against you throughout thick and thin. Thank you so much!
Good Luck in the Finals. – Lin Dan.”
This is what Lee Chong Wei replied :
“I will reply to this letter by using Chinese although most know I can speak fluent but when I actually text it out, I am not even close to the way I speak but as a respect,I will do so, to tell the story of us.
In the year 2000 is when I first met you and we took a picture together. I remember back then you always like to look cool and look good. You like to dress up in a shirt with coat and a shiny pair of shoes. Those were the days where both of us were still very young and I never thought our story will be for so long and interesting.
On February 2004, that was our very first match and I remember that you defeated me. In the 1 year period, I clearly remember that we played 8 matches and I only defeated you twice. The moment when I saw the pride on your face, that was when I decided to set you as my target and I will want to battle you in my years to come.
But then I realised that Taufik and Gade was still competing. No matter how hard we try to play and win against them, we can never ever take a medal or trophy away against at the point of time. There is when both of us be very patient and bare with the anger inside of us.
I knew you were going through hardcore training and I did was too be even more hardcore than you do. You train 10 hours a day, I will train more than 10 hours a day. Every single time when I am about to give up, your shadow will run across my mind and a question will appear. The question is, “If I cannot beat Lin Dan, how can I be crowned as the legend?”
Finally, there was a day where I stepped up to my game with an aim. I thought that I am ready, I want to use champion to prove myself.
Sadly, the world is cruel. In the 2012 Beijing Olympics, You were crazy and was at the top of your form. Although I was ranked #1 in the world ranking, you killed my hope at the very last moment when my dream is about to come true. A year after when I we met in London, I saw you so hyped up after the victory throwing your racquets and the happy face of yours, it saddens me. I didn’t want to stand back up because the results is too hard for me to accept and it is too torment for me. Throughout these 4 years, there’s n0t one time, that I wasn’t thinking about how to defeat you, but the result is still bitter and I only got a silver.
I have too many silver medals, while you have too many gold. I want a gold medal. Even if it’s just one gold medal from major competition, just one.
I continue to train harder and harder until I do not know how many pairs of shoes were torn, how many racquets was broken and I didn’t even know the differences between day and night as I was only hibernating and training in the stadium. Every part of my mind was occupied with all relevant thoughts about you. Sometimes I wonder, why did I have to be facing such a talent in my career? If it wasn’t because of your appearance, the legacy could have been mine. The fact is your presence is something nobody could change and all I can do is to defeat you, to get the ultimate dream of mine.
Although that was in my mind but we sometimes will communicate through text from time to time to keep connected because I don’t only see you as my rival but I also at the same time treat you as my best friend. In the 13th World Championships, before I could put up a good fight, I already lost my game due to injuries. You came right away to my side and ask me if I was fine and I couldn’t do much but to give up the competition.
After that, I realise that I am old and you are no longer that young too. There are too many contestants aged at the 20s coming by to knock us down. Sometimes I am defeated by them but the only rival in my memory and heart is only you, the Super Dan! Only by winning you, I feel that the trophy and victory brings a great meaning. Most of the media will often question when will be the end of the ‘Lee-Lin’ battle and all I know is each time we play, represents a chance lesser because we are slowly aging and no longer like before.
Yesterday, I finally won you! I was so overwhelmed because I finally did it on a big and meaningful competition. It’s not that I am afraid I couldn’t get a gold medal but it’s because I was so eager to defeat you. Everybody wants to be a warrior of something, only by defeating you, I feel so proud of myself.
When I exchange my jersey with yours and we hugged each other, looking at the straps and bandage we have on our body makes me realise that we aged even more than I expected. On that moment, I feel like rewinding to how it was before. I know it is impossible to do so but this memory will always be carved in my heart.
If it wasn’t you who appeared in my career, no matter how hard I push myself, it brings no meaning to me.
Brother, finally in the Olympics Finals this year, you can rest and not playing against me anymore. So, please lend me your applauses. Would you?” – Lee Chong Wei.