Two Icons Walk Into Hall of Fame

Two Icons Walk Into Hall of Fame

The elevation of Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan to the BWF Hall of Fame puts an official stamp, as it were, on the two greats as badminton immortals.

On that hallowed list, they will rub shoulders with other legends such as Erland Kops, Rudy Hartono and Judy Hashman, among others.

It is also significant that both Lee and Lin should enter the Hall of Fame together. Great as they were individually, their rivalry enriched badminton; it was a significant part of their identity.

On many counts, what Lee and Lin did extended the boundaries of what was considered possible.

Their numbers are impressive enough.

Consider Lee – whose reign as world No.1 for 200 consecutive weeks is a staggering statement on his consistency and excellence. Or that he won 12 Malaysia Open titles – including seven in a row – between 2004 and 2018. Or that he won 47 Superseries/World Tour titles and a total of over 60 career titles.

Or take Lin, winner of two Olympic, five World Championships gold medals, 11 Thomas Cup/Sudirman Cup and every other major title, which gives a completeness to his resume above any other player in history.

After a match at the 2011 Hong Kong Open.

But while the numbers are impressive, Lee and Lin were more than just about stacking up records. Lee was a vision of light-footedness and speed and attacking flair; Lin had a more complete game, and there were aspects which he became renowned for – a predatorial ability to seize the moment, an uncanny ability to convert hopeless defensive positions into his advantage, iron control in varying conditions, and ice-cool nerves under pressure.

It was little wonder that when they faced off, they elevated badminton to new heights. Among their early memorable contests was the Malaysia Open final in 2006, when Lee saved no less than eight match points for his third straight crown. They were to run into each other frequently, including two Olympic and two World Championships finals, all won by Lin. Among their epic bouts were the finals at the World Championships 2011, the London Olympics 2012 and the semifinals of the Rio Olympics 2016.

Those contests caught the attention of the world, and doubtless attracted legions of new followers to the game. At a time when media was being revolutionised, expanding from traditional print and TV to social media, Lee and Lin became the most prominent faces of badminton, helping take the sport to new audiences worldwide. To a great extent, they set the gold standard for men’s singles, which is why although Lee retired in 2019 and Lin a year later, their presence is still vivid at courts worldwide.

Career Highlights

Lee Chong Wei

3 Olympic Silver Medals

3 World Championships Silver Medals

47 World Superseries/World Tour Titles

12 Malaysian Open Titles

3 Commonwealth Games Gold Medals (men’s singles)

2 Asian Championships Gold Medals (men’s singles)

1 Silver, 2 Bronze: Asian Games 2010 (men’s singles)

200 Consecutive Weeks as No.1

Team Events:

Commonwealth Games: 2 Gold (mixed team)

Thomas Cup: Silver (2014); 4 Bronze (2006, 2008, 2010, 2016)

Sudirman Cup: Bronze (2009)

Asian Games: 2 Bronze (2006, 2014)

Lin Dan

2 Olympic Gold Medals

5 World Championships Gold Medals

2 World Cup Titles

2 Asian Games Gold Medals (men’s singles)

4 Asian Championships Gold Medals (men’s singles)

Team Events:

Thomas Cup: Gold (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2018); 2 Bronze (2002, 2014)

Sudirman Cup: Gold (2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2015); Silver (2017)