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Saturday, Oct 19, 2019

‘Enemies’ Lee Chong Wei, Lin Dan wary of fresh on-court threats

Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan have set a great example of off-court camaraderie in the world of badminton while Peter Gade sees rapid changes in the women’s game

other-sports Updated: Nov 04, 2017 19:26 IST
Devarchit Varma
Devarchit Varma
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Lee Chong Wei, 35, was close to retirement a few months back while Lin Dan (right), at 34 isn’t getting any younger.
Lee Chong Wei, 35, was close to retirement a few months back while Lin Dan (right), at 34 isn’t getting any younger.(Getty Images)

They may have remained fierce rivals on the court, engaging in several battles, but Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei and China’s Lin Dan set a strong example of how two greats of a sport should maintain camaraderie.

“Lin Dan and I started in Asian juniors. I always respect him, and this is also good for badminton. Everybody wants to see me and Lin Dan (play) and he is also my big enemy.

“Today, we are doing the Badminton Vision (Legends Vision World Tour); we want to promote the sport. Everybody knows Lin Dan is a key player in our sport,” said the former world No 1 in Mumbai on Saturday.

Lee, 35, was close to retirement a few months back while Lin Dan (34) isn’t getting any younger. But there is still some fight left in the two champions and they know the journey ahead will be tough. “A lot of youngsters are coming through in men’s singles. For me and Lin Dan it will be tough to win titles. For us, it has always been a big fight. We are always enemies, but outside the court we are friends,” Lee said.

Asia still powerhouse

Former Danish world No 1 Peter Gade said Asia remains the badminton powerhouse despite China losing its intimidating factor.

“I still see the power centre as Asia. Now maybe we have more countries taking part from Asia and Europe, we’ve seen Carolina Marin from Spain and a few others. I have been working with the French team, trying to produce players. A few things are happening, but I still see the power centre is in Asia,” Peter Gade said.

Although Denmark has produced world class players, not many great badminton players have emerged in other parts of Europe. “There is lot of attention and resources available in Asia, (but) we still have a lot of work to do in Europe to bring badminton to the same level,” he added.

’Axelsen must look after his body’

Gade said Denmark’s current world No 1 Viktor Axelsen, who stands at 1.94m and is quite big for a shuttler, must be very careful about fitness. “His style of play is to attack in a powerful way; he is big boy, so he has got a lot of range. And the challenge for him is to still move fast and cover the court in the best way possible. And I know that he has worked on this aspect for the last many years.

“His challenge in the coming years will be to be stable, perform at every single tournament at the highest level; it’s a challenge for him to take care of his body and his preparations in the right way. He still needs to develop his game to be at the top in men’s singles,” he said.

Changing women’s game

Peter Gade acknowledged women’s singles was undergoing and could mark a new beginning. China has slipped with the top player Sun Yu ranked only world No 4.

“In ladies singles, you have a lot of personalities coming forward, and players from different countries. You have a very exciting future and it is only a beginning of that. It is mainly because of Chinese domination (in the past) and now it is more open. You will also see reaction from Chinese ladies singles. Let’s hope we continue to have an open competition, which is good for the game,” Peter Gade said.

First Published: Nov 04, 2017 19:26 IST

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