Lee Chong Wei expressed his desire to promote badminton with Lin Dan, who hung up his racquet on Saturday as one of the game’s greatest having won every accolade after 20 years in the sport.
The Malaysian had not too long ago advised his Chinese superstar rival to retire due to his age and emerging younger rivals, and especially after the Tokyo Olympics was postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Lin Dan was intent on making a fifth Olympics appearance but made the decision to retire last week after citing his injuries would not allow him to carry on anymore.
Now that 'Super Dan' has left the game professionally, Lee is looking forward to working with him off court.
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. 这一天终于还是到来了 我退役一年后 你也选择挂拍 不惊讶 不遗憾 球场上的巅峰之战 我们挥洒的汗水和泪水 记录着青春无悔 祝福你 我最伟大的对手 林丹
“Although we have retired, I wish to continue promoting the sport with Lin Dan. Badminton is in our blood. Of course I want him to enjoy his retirement first. Let him take his time.
“I played for 19 years, and Lin Dan went on to make it 20. It’s time he enjoys a well-deserved break. Like in my case, Lin Dan’s wife [Xie Xingfang] is also a former badminton player. Back then, it was badminton all the time.
“If we were not playing in tournaments, we were at training camps, there was hardly any time for family. I’m sure that’s what Lin Dan wants now. I hope the coronavirus situation eases soon so he can take his wife around the world and spend time with his son,” Lee told the New Straits Times.
Lin Dan also hinted at a potential ambassador role as he announced his exit on Saturday.
“At 37, pain and injuries no longer allow me to fight with my teammates. I have gratitude, a heavy heart and unwillingness. In days to come, I hope to spend more time with my family, and I will also look for a new ‘court’, “he said.
Meanwhile, tributes poured in for the two-time Olympic and five-time world champion from other well-known figures such as Peter Gade Christensen.
The toughest opponent I ever faced in my career, a true inspiration to badmintonfans all over the world, an amazing athlete, and possibly the greatest of all time in our game. Lin Dan, be proud, and enjoy your life with family, friends and new adventures in the years to come ! ??? #lindan #lovethegame @yonex_badminton
“The toughest opponent I ever faced in my career, a true inspiration to badminton fans all over the world. An amazing athlete, and possibly the greatest of all time,” said Gade.
The former European powerhouse is known as one of the 'Four Kings' of badminton, along with Lee, Lin Dan and Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat.