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Lin Dan in quest for second Olympic title as China set to stamp authority

(Xinhua)

14:01, July 12, 2012

BEIJING, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Badminton superstar Lin Dan is in quest for a record second Olympic title at the London Olympic Games starting from July 28 to August 5 when star-studded China will be looking forward to stamping its authority.

Different from previous Olympic badminton competitions, the London Games will witness the debut of a new format, to be played on two stages - group play and knock-out stages.

China is still hot favorite in all the five events after claiming three gold, two silver, and three bronze medals in 2008. But rivals will be queuing up to give China a bloody nose on the biggest stage of all at the Wembley Arena.

Although China made a clean-sweep in recent two world championships and swept both Sudirman Cup and Thomas & Uber Cup, Chinese long-time head coach Li Yongbo has attempted to lower expectations for the London Games.

"Four years ago we were on home soil, but in London we will be away and encounter more challenges," he warned.

Li believed China can at least bag two golds in London and the order from easy to difficult is the women's doubles, women's singles, men's singles, mixed doubles and men's doubles.

No shuttler has defended the men's singles title in the history of the Olympic Games ever, and Lin Dan has a chance to break the jinx after he beat Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei in a one-sided final four years ago.

Lin said he wanted "everything to be like in 2008 before Beijing" after he led China to win its fifth successive Thomas Cup title in May.

However he kept a low profile, saying "it's difficult to repeat the peak of the Beijing Games".

"I should take nothing for granted and I am going to use every day as an opportunity to prepare and improve," he said.

Widely considered the most decorated shuttler of all time, Lin has won every major title available to an Asian.

Standing in the 29-year-old's quest for a second Olympic title will again be his main rival Lee. Though the Malaysian tore a tendon in his ankle during the Thomas Cup match last month and lost the world No. 1 place to Lin for the first time in nearly four years, he is still the biggest barrier for Lin.

Lee was the on-form shuttler and favorite for almost every super series in the past 12 months, and his rehabilitation went smoothly and it seems he will recover from the injury in time.

However, one criticism of Lee's career is the lack of titles from world major competitions, like the world championships, Asian Games and the Olympic Games.

Besides, Lee will feel more pressure by bearing Malaysia's hope of a first Olympic gold at London.

"Maintaining my fitness under these conditions is tough but there's no shortcut and the thought that I won't be able to fight for the (Olympic) gold medal drives me on," said Lee.

Other than Lin, Lee will also meet hard resistance from two Chinese shuttlers, Chen Long and Chen Jin, who ranked third and fourth in the world. Although neither of the duo has achieved the same kind of long-running dominance like Lin, they can still be challengers.

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