Indonesian great Taufik Hidayat shared his thoughts on former on-court rivals Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan, saying everyone including himself expected Lee to clinch gold at the 2016 Olympics.
Taufik was convinced after Lee beat Lin in an epic semi-final showdown, winning 15-21, 21-11, 22-20 in one of the greatest battles the two icons had produced in their 40 encounters.
In doing so, Lee vanquished the heartache of losing to his Chinese rival by the slimmest of margins four years earlier at the 2012 Olympics men's singles final.
But the 79-minute triumph took a toll on Lee physically, as the Malaysian lost in straight games to Chen Long in the final.
“I think his biggest opportunity came at the Rio Olympics. When he beat Lin Dan in the semis, it was automatic he should have beaten Chen Long in the final. Everyone thought Chong Wei was going to be the champion for sure.
“He is a well-rounded player, one of the legends from Malaysia in badminton. But he had not won the Asian Games or the Olympics. I think he was just out of luck,” Taufik told the Olympic Channel.
The Indonesian also shed some light on his rivalry with Lin, saying the media sensationalised their rivalry.
The duo met each other 17 times in total, which Lin won on 13 occasions.
The last time both faced each other was at the 2012 Olympics, where the five-time world champion comprehensively won in straight games en route to winning gold.
“Lin Dan is a robot, the best the game has ever seen. He is a crazy, great player! But the media sensationalised our rivalry. I never had any problems with Lin Dan. We sometimes do go for dinner and drinks after our matches,” he said.
Since their retirement, the trio and Denmark’s Peter Gade-Christensen have been promoting the sport to a wider audience through The Legends’ Vision campaign, where they toured a few cities previously to spread awareness.