Danish badminton Peter Gade ended his career in style last night, after beating eternal arch-nemesis Lin Dan 20-22, 21-16, 21-14 in a farewell exhibition match at the Copenhagen Masters.
And how fitting it was that 36 year-old Gade polished off his career by beating the one man that always seemed to have his number.
Lin Dan, who hails from China, is considered my many as the best ever to play the game and played a number of memorable matches against Gade over the years. And while most of those matches were close, the majority ended in a Chinese victory.
Of the 21 matches they’ve played against each other, Lin has won 17 and was often the stumbling block to Gade winning a tournament. Lin, 29, has won everything there is to win in professional badminton, including two successive Olympic gold medals in the men’s singles and five world championships.
It was an emotional evening for Gade, who after 16 years of top-flight badminton, finally stepped down to a standing ovation from the 1,500 people in attendance in Falconer Salen in Fredriksberg.
“I won’t be doing all this anymore and that’s a strange feeling. I have a great deal of respect for it and there may come some kind of reaction in the coming months, but I’ll take that battle then,” Gade told Ekstra Bladet newspaper after his last match was over. “Now I have to set new goals for myself that may not involve badminton and that will take some getting used to.”
Crown prince Fredrik was present, as were his two friends, boxer Mikkel Kessler and table tennis player Michael Maze, to cheer on Gade, whose humility has won him many friends in the sporting world, including Lin.
“I didn’t know how to handle playing against this legendary man. I hope we will see each other once again soon,” Lin told Ekstrabladet newspaper. “Of course I will miss it. From the first till the last game, I have always enjoyed playing against Gade. He is one of the best players in the world.”
Gade was invited to Dan’s wedding recently and the Chinese badminton wizard didn’t hesitate when Gade asked him to Copenhagen and partake in his farewell match and the end of a career that includes 24 Grand Prix wins, five World Championship medals, 10 Copenhagen Masters triumphs, an All England victory and a stint as the world’s top-ranked player.