Lin Dan, the man with the reputation for putting the bad in badminton, did not hit his coach or argue with his opponent in the men's singles final Sunday. Instead, his victory over a determined and athletic foe was a thing of beauty.
Lin Dan of China celebrated after winning the gold medal for the men's badminton singles final match against Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on Sunday.
Lin Dan of China competes during the men's s singles gold medal match of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games badminton event in Beijing, China, Aug. 17, 2008. Lin Dan won the match over Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia and got the gold medal.
The Chinese star beat Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, 21-12, 21-8, missing almost nothing and wasting very little in an ultimately emphatic victory.
Lin only strayed from badminton etiquette once.
In the first set, after the umpire ruled he had touched the net, Lin mimed disbelief.
The raucous crowd enjoyed a long, loud boo. Then everyone got on with the match.
Until late in the second game, Lee stretched points out with his scurrying defense.
The Malaysian moved sharply and untiringly backward and forward and from side to side, the two players ruthlessly pulling each other around.
Where Lee's defense was eye-catching, Lin's was effortless. However quickly he had to move to reach the dropping shuttle, when he caught up with it he usually seemed to have a spare split-second before playing his shot.
Most impressive was the delicacy of Lin's play. He rarely smashed until the final, impatient charge to victory in the second game.
Instead, he drove Lee back with high, floating shots to the far corners of the court, and jerked him forward again and again with precise little drop shots that barely flitted over the net. It was striking how many points in the first game ended with Lee finding the net, and how few ended with Lin's efforts, despite the tiny margin he allowed himself, falling short.
There is an aura about Lin. After every won point, he would turn and strut to the back of the court, toward his coach, apparently shouting in the din. Sometimes he thumped his chest; sometimes he punched the air; often he just flicked his racket. It was a walk that suggested both confident machismo and bubbling nervous energy.
Lin is beloved of sponsors in China. He has a famous girlfriend, Xie Xingfang, one of China's leading women badminton players, who was picked out in the crowd by Chinese TV cameras.
Asked about his future with Xie at the press conference, Lin talked only about their careers. For the most part he happily recited from the Chinese medal winner's phrase book: He was happy, he had worked hard, he would work harder.
Lin's victory completed a badminton tournament dominated by China, which finished with three golds and seven total medals from five events.
One of the golds that escaped came in the mixed doubles, which preceded the men's singles final.
Lee Yong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung, an unseeded pair from South Korea, beat the two-time world champions, Liliyana Natsir and Nova Widianto of Indonesia, 21-11, 21-17.