Beijing: It’s been slightly more than a year since Lin Dan announced his retirement from professional badminton on July 4, 2020.
Although Chen Long managed to win the Tokyo Olympics men’s singles silver medal, he hinted that he might be retiring soon and would not compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics when asked by reporters after his semi-final loss to Shi Yuqi on Thursday.
“About the Paris Olympics, I will leave it to young guys such as Shi Yuqi,” said Chen.
And when the badminton individual events of the 14th National Games concluded on September 17, 2021, the 25-year-old Shi Yuqi who represented the Jiangsu team, defeated Lu Guangzu also from the Jiangsu team, 21-9, 21-13 to clinch his first gold at China’s National Games.
For the record, Lin Dan has dominated that category for four consecutive editions of the China National Games (2005, 2009, 2013, 2017), before Shi Yuqi claimed it on Friday.
“Four years ago, I lost to Lin Dan, probably because I was too nervous. Now, I am more comfortable in this situation,” said Shi after the match.
“There are many outstanding young players in China. Next, we will be competing in several important competitions such as Sudirman Cup and Thomas Cup. I feel I have greater responsibility on my shoulder,” explained Shi.
“My ankle injury has not fully recovered yet, I can only continue to treat it as we go along. During the quarantine period after returning from Tokyo, it gave me time to think about a lot of things, and I took the time to settle myself and did some yoga,” added Shi.
In the rematch of the Tokyo Olympics mixed doubles final, the Olympic gold medalists Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping fell behind 3-10 in the decider against the Olympic silver medalist Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong, before staging a remarkable comeback to narrow the gap at 10-11. After the mid-game interval, Wang/Huang reversed the lead at 15-13 to eventually beating the World No. 1 pair 22-20, 15-21, 21-17.
Wang Yilyu couldn’t hide his emotions and was crying after the match.
“It’s much tougher to win gold at the National Games,” said Wang after the match.
In women’s singles, Chen Yufei played very patiently in the final by beating He Bingjiaoin straight set 21-18, 21-15 to win her second China National Games individual gold. In 2017, Chen defeated Wang Shixian for the gold.
In the women’s doubles final, the Tokyo Olympics women’s doubles silver medalists Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan defeated their teammates in the China national team – Li Yinhui/Du Yue 21-11 and 21-19.
“Jia Yifan and I have been playing together since 2014, we have a very strong understanding of each other. Our partnership will reach 10 years in 2024. We will continue working towards our ’10-year-agreement’,” said Chen.
Zhejiang’s Zhou Haodong/Wang Chang pulled off the biggest upset of the day or probably entire China’s 14th National Games by defeating the Tokyo Olympic runners-up Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen 21-12, 25-23.