Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei (Image: fourthofficial.com)
Two nights ago, Malaysia’s pride and joy, world-class shuttler Dato’ Lee Chong Wei came face-to-face with world number 2 badminton player, Chen Long, from China in Rio 2016 men’s singles finals. The pair played a tough point-by-point match, but the gold ultimately went to Chen Long who won 21-18, 21-18 respectively.
Almost immediately after the match, a supposed letter from the other Chinese player, long-time archenemy and comrade of Lee Chong Wei, Lin Dan, surfaced. Lee Chong Wei had played against Lin Dan the previous day at the semi-finals, a significant match that Lee Chong Wei won with 15-21, 21-11, 22-20. It marked the first time ever that Lee Chong Wei defeated Lin Dan in an Olympics badminton match.
In the rather romantic message Lin Dan talked about their journey to becoming badminton superstars and articulated great gratitude for Lee Chong Wei’s presence in both his life and career. Lin Dan’s “letter” was the one that was translated and later spread like wildfire on the internet.
Here’s what Lin Dan’s “letter” read:
“The moment when you threw your racquet on the ground and performed a high jump with cheers and smiles after defeating me, I felt so happy and delighted for you deep down in my heart.
Both of us knew each other for 16 years. Those were the days where pioneers like Taufik Hidayat and Peter Gade was still competing, we were just a nobody. Nobody knew who we are and nobody really cares and pay attention to our game. Speaking about that, I won the first match that we both battle against each other and I never ever thought that the battle will continue 16 years along the road with you.
Both of us went through a lot of defeats and victory together but I have to be a little proud of myself that I am a little bit luckier to own more victory against you in big competitions. Later did I know, you are no longer somebody that I can evaluate by victory and defeat, you are a player who bares bigger responsibilities than I do and both of us deals with our own sweat and passion.
Also, a big thanks to you that I am not only address as any other champions but I am also warmly addressed as one of the players of the greatest rivalry, the ‘Lee-Lin’ rivalry. We are just like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi where the presence of each other represents the eternity of the rivalry.
It’s you who made and shape me to who I am today. I have taken most of the biggest champions that is present in our industry but the reason I never back down and be lazy is because you always push me to the core. Competition would be much easier without you but your presence created challenges for me and always make me burst into sweat when I actually don’t have to.
Almost every meet-up we have is separated by a net on the court and every single meet-up represents your effort and determination. Every single time I take a step forward, you will never back down and instead, u will choose to ‘tailgate’ me and never let me go. So when you train, I train, when you do not give up, I will also not back down.
Throughout all the processes, we turned old now and more young players are up in the battlefield to compete with us. Sometimes we text each other, talking about the young players about how tight their competition among each other is unlike us back then where there was only the two of us. Honestly, although there is only the two of us and it’s ‘lonely’ but I really enjoy the process because it is only you who can bring the best out of me.
Without realizing, here we are, meeting in the Rio Olympics for our 4th Olympics together. In the quarter-finals of the Olympics, I met Srikanth Kidambi of India and it wasn’t an easy game for me but I pushed myself just because I know there is a promise I have to fulfil and the promise is to play against you, my greatest opponent."
The “letter” then concluded with, “The 37th time I meet you opposite the net, it’s already gone a whole round since our first. Truthfully, when I slipped and lost to you, I had no regrets. You are my greatest rival, I am willing to lose to you, without regrets. When I hugged you, I really felt as if the past ten years with you, had been but a dream. I will take your jersey to my future child and tell him: ‘There is an uncle known as Lee Chong Wei, your dad’s greatest rival, and also best friend.’ To meet you in my best years is my luck. Good luck in the finals.”
Netizens shared the post, by citing Twitter user @rueyping as the source. One such post garnered 11,000 likes and over 15,000 shares. The original tweet has been deleted and the letter went over on social media when Chong Wei lost his third Olympic final.
“It’s fiction, guys,” Ruey Ping wrote, but perhaps in vain because some local media outlets have already picked it up and written about it, passing it off as a legit message from Lin Dan to Lee Chong Wei.
Thanks to Google search, someone managed to stumble upon the original piece on a Chinese media outlet Sina, which contained the famous “letter”.
The original article clearly states, “If they were to write a letter to each other, what would they say?” before going on to describe 2 make-believe letters from the badminton stars – one from Lin Dan to Lee Chong Wei, and the other from Lee Chong Wei to Lin Dan.
We are very sorry folks, we adore the romantic almost idealistic rivalry just as much as the next person but it would have been great if the letter was genuine! Unfortunately, it isn’t and as much as we hate doing this, we have burst your bubble.
It’s a sham but nonetheless a touching piece of "literature". Amazing detail was given in this letter on their early days in the field, and it even touched on their rivalry on the court and went on to touch on their on-and-off-court companionship.
Script material for an upcoming movie project perhaps? We say yes.