Badminton was first introduced as a demonstration sport at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich and later customized as an exhibition sport at the 1988 Summer Olympics.
In 1992, badminton made its debut in the Summer Olympics circuit. It included all categories except mixed doubles, which was later added in the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Men's singles have been held every year at the Summer Olympics since the 1992 Summer Olympics held in Barcelona. Let's take a look at five dominant male shuttlers in the men's singles category at the Summer Olympics so far.
#5. Poul-Erik Hoyer Larsen
Hoyer Larsen, who represented Denmark, competed in three Summer Olympics. In Barcelona 1992 Olympics, he lost in the quarterfinals to Indonesian Ardy Wiranata. Then in the 1996, Atlanta Olympics, he scripted history by defeating Dong Jiong of China in the men's singles finals to clinch Gold.
Thus, the former World no. 1 became the first non-Asian player to win an Olympic medal. Moreover, he is the only player from Denmark to win an Olympic Gold to date.
In 2013, the Danish legend was elected as the President of the BWF (Badminton World Federation), and is currently serving his second term in the position. Recently, the 54-year-old Dane was also diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and getting treated for it.
#4. Taufik Hidayat
Taufik Hidayat started his Olympic Journey at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, but was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Ji Xinpeng. Then in the 2004 Athens Olympics, he emerged victorious by clinching the Olympic gold medal. He defeated the reigning Olympic Champion Poul Erik Hoyer Larsen in the quarterfinal and went on to defeat the Korean Shon Seung-mo in the finals.
In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Hidayat, also known as the backhand king, was eliminated in the second round. The former World no. 1 went on to participate in his third Olympics at the 2012 London Olympics. However, he was defeated by his arch-rival Lin Dan in the Round of 16.
After his retirement, Taufik Hidayat runs a badminton training center in Jakarta, Indonesia.
#3. Lee Chong Wei
Lee Chong Wei is a triple Olympic Silver medallist and a former World no. 1 badminton player. He cruised into finals in his debut at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But he was completely outplayed by Lin Dan in straight games and had to settle for an Olympic silver medal.
In 2012, after recovering from an ankle injury, Lee made his comeback at the 2012 London Olympics. In the semi-finals, be beat Chen Long of China to set up a second meeting with Lin Dan in the finals. Lee started confidently with a first game win, but Lin managed to level the match. Despite Lee leading in the third set a few times, Lin leveled it up and won the third game 21-19, forcing Lee to settle for another Olympic silver.
In the 2016 Rio Olympics, Lee avenged his loss by defeating Lin Dan in the quarterfinals. However, he was defeated for the third time in an Olympic final by Chen Long of China. Later, in 2019, Lee retired from all forms of badminton following a nose cancer diagnosis.
#2. Chen Long
Chen Long is the second most dominant player in men's singles in the Summer Olympics. He made his Olympic debut with a bronze in the 2012 London Olympics. In the semi-finals, he was defeated by the Malaysian legend Lee Chong Wei, but defeated Lee-Hyun-il, thus winning the bronze.
The former World no. 1 avenged his 2012 Olympic defeat at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He inflicted upon an Olympic heartache on the 1st seed, Lee Chong Wei, by winning the men's singles finals in straight games to earn his first-ever Olympic gold.
#1. Lin Dan
Lin Dan is the most dominant badminton player in the Summer Olympics. No male shuttler had won back to back gold medals at the Olympics before he did in the 2012 London Olympics. Also known as, Super Dan, he is regarded as the greatest badminton player of all time.
Lin's Olympic journey began in 2004 in which he was eliminated early despite being the first seed. However, Lin's first Olympic gold came at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in which he demolished Lee Chong Wei 21-12, 21-8, in the finals. He also became the first player to win Olympic gold as the first seed.
In the 2012 London Olympics, Lin cruised into the finals and played against Lee Chong Wei for the second consecutive time. Unlike the previous final, this was an intense match in which Lin fought back after losing the first game, to eventually win the match. In doing so, he also scripted history by becoming the first men's singles player to defend the Olympic title.
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The results were not the same at the 2016 Rio Olympics in which Lin lost the semi-final to Lee Chong Wei. The Lee-Lin rivalry was one of the most exciting and celebrated rivalry in badminton. Recently, Lin announced retirement and pulled down the curtains on the most celebrated career in badminton.