Badminton great Lin Dan retires after 2 Olympic golds and five World titles

Lin Dan's five World Championship titles are the most for a singles player. JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images

Lin Dan, arguably the greatest badminton player of the 21st century, has announced his retirement from the sport. Lin, who won two Olympic golds and five World titles, dominated men's singles badminton for about a decade along with Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei.

"I've dedicated everything to the sport I love," Lin said in a post on China's Twitter-like Weibo. "My family, coaches, teammates and fans have accompanied me through many happy times and difficult moments."

Lin had been eyeing a third Olympic gold in Tokyo, to accompany the golds he won in 2008 and 2012. "Now I'm 37 years old, and my physical fitness and pain no longer allow me to fight side by side with my teammates," he said.

Lin was at his best in the big matches and was the kind of player who saved his best for the biggest moments. In an eight year period between 2006 and 2014, he won almost every major final he played in, including five Worlds, two Olympics and two Asian Games golds. He was particularly dominant against Lee Chong Wei and Chen Long, who were easily the best players of his generation besides him. Lin won 23 of his 31 matches against Lee between 2006 and 2014. His record against Chen during the same period was 7-3.

Lin had slipped to 19th in the world rankings and was all but out of contention for the Tokyo Olympics, with both Chen Long and Shi Yuqi being placed significantly higher than him.

Lee Chong Wei, who retired in June last year after a battle with cancer, paid an emotional tribute to Lin on Twitter, calling him "the king" and his retirement a "heavy moment of our lives".

HS Prannoy, who is the only Indian to defeat Lin thrice, said, "He's the greatest badminton player I've known. I don't see anyone coming close to his level in the next ten years either. He won the biggest tournaments multiple times."

2014 Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap said, "He was an absolute legend and icon of the sport, all class, style and swag... But he was always courteous when he saw you, even with the limited English words like 'hi', 'bye', 'hello' or 'thanks' that he knew."

With inputs from Jonathan Selvaraj and Susan Ninan