Last night, Malaysia’s pride and world-class shuttler Dato’ Lee Chong Wei came face-to-face with world #2 player Chen Long from China in the Rio 2016 men’s singles badminton finals. The pair played a tough point-by-point match, but the gold medal eventually went to Chen Long, who won 21-18, 21-18.
Almost immediately after the game, a supposed letter from the other Chinese player, long-time archenemy and friend of Lee Chong Wei, Lin Dan, surfaced. Lee Chong Wei had played Lin Dan the previous day in the Rio Olympics men’s singles badminton semi-finals, a historic match that Lee Chong Wei won 15-21, 21-11, 22-20 in 79 minutes. It marked the first time ever that Lee Chong Wei defeated Lin Dan in an Olympics game.
In the somewhat romantic “letter”, Lin Dan talked about their journey to becoming badminton stars and expressed his gratitude for Lee Chong Wei’s presence in both his life as well as his career. “Besides all the wins and champions, there’s still a warm ‘Lin-Lee’ relationship linked with my name. We can be like Ronaldo and Messi, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, Federer and Nadal, eternal because of each other’s existence,” the excerpt reads.
“Because of you, only there exists a better me. I’ve gotten almost all possible champions, yet still do not dare to put down the defence and slack. I could have sang it is lonely to be undefeated (rough translation of a song name), if not for you being there, the one forcing cold sweat from me, the one facing me every time we went to the finals with you opposite the net. You went all out to chase up to me, it’s not like I could let you just surpass me like that. You trained, I trained. You wouldn’t accept losing, I didn’t dare slack,” Lin Dan “wrote”.
The “letter” then ended 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.”
Needless to say, the tearjerking “letter” went viral on social media platforms and as at time of writing, netizens are still scrambling to share it. For example, this person’s post of the letter has garnered over 14,000 shares and 790 comments in less than 12 hours. In her caption, she wrote that the source was from one @rueyping on Twitter. Unfortunately, the original tweet has since been deleted.
We did, however, notice Ruey Ping’s remark on the viral Facebook post after sieving through the comments:
“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 note from Lin Dan to Lee Chong Wei.
Also, thanks to Google, we managed to stumble upon the original article on Chinese media outlet Sina, which contained the “letter”.
The original article clearly states, “如果他們彼此給對方寫一封信的話，他們又會怎麼说呢?” which translates into, “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.
Lin Dan’s “letter” was the one that was translated and later spread like wildfire on the interwebs.
Nice story, beautiful romanticisation of the game and the sportsmanship between the two, but unfortunately, it’s fan fiction. In other words, it’s fake.
UPDATE (24th August, 4:45pm):
At the press conference that was held shortly after our Malaysian Olympians arrived back in Kuala Lumpur from Rio 2016, Dato’ Lee Chong Wei fielded some questions from the media.
During which, he acknowledged that he knew of the viral letters and confirmed that they were fake. He joked, “Dia ingat kita cinta ka?” much to the amusement to those who were present at the session.
— Sumisha Naidu (@SumishaCNA) August 24, 2016
That wit though 😀
Welcome home, Dato’!