Looking back, what were the most memorable moments of your career?
I think there are a lot of happy moments. It was my own choice to engage in badminton, and I love this sport very much; therefore, some experiences sometimes seem very bitter or difficult, and I would be depressed when I lost a match, but I think I was happy to enjoy the process. The most memorable was the World Championships (2019) quarterfinals against Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi, from various aspects of the game from me personally, or from the competitors, It demonstrated the spirit of sport. A game’s biggest benefit is the memory is very deep. For each and every interpretation of what is sport, what is the spirit, we have to go all out, go beyond limits, never give up, this spirit is the most profound in my memory.
Your last international competition at Tokyo 2020. What memories do you carry from Tokyo?
I think the Olympics is a very sacred event. The most unforgettable moment was when we finally lost to Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu. Polii is amazing. Everyone puts in a lot of effort, but you still need a lot of things to win the Olympic gold. I could see the determination in her eyes. I don’t know what she has been through, but I could feel that she was different from before with the look in her eyes.
So in the end, she won the gold medal. I think it’s a pity that China didn’t win the gold. But at the same time, I felt very moved, because it is true that Polii lasted the longest.
Who were the three toughest opponents in your career?
The first is Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi. They were very difficult to play, they are very honourable, and their game is worth learning, they have no special weaknesses. They were flexible with tactics and could take a lot of pressure. They are the pair I had to prepare the longest time every time we played.
The Danish pair (Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl), they attacked so hard, it made me jealous.
Then Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan. They have absolute top strength, and I think they are the strongest in women’s doubles. They have reached another level, and it is difficult for others to break through them.
You were a member of the powerful Chinese team for so many years; what did it mean to you to be part of the team?
Because we live together, there is love and unity in the Chinese team, and our belief is very strong. Being in the gave me a lot of courage and strength. It’s not about me as a person; it’s like all of us together like strands twisted together in a rope. Everything was positive. Moreover, the team had a very fine tradition inherited from generation to generation. Inheritance was critical, and the core strength of the team.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I always think that the team event is the most important, because the team represents China, which also symbolises us. Therefore, I think the proudest moment for me was the Sudirman Cup 2019 win, and the Asian Team Championships 2019. I was extremely proud to defend the honour of the country.
You’ve played against a lot of foreign players, so who among them do you have a good relationship with?
Too many. I’m very close to Mayu Matsumoto, Yuki Fukushima, Koharu Yonemoto. And Malaysia’s Goh Liu Ying, Woon Khe Wei. Then there is Yeo Jia Min in Singapore. We’d text on WeChat. I registered Matsumoto’s WeChat, and I was her first friend on WeChat. They send me messages and care about me.
Of all the partners you had, how do you evaluate them? Which partner best suited your style?
Du Yue I met at a very young age, I think this was very valuable, because I’m quite stubborn, so I think such a long relationship makes me happy. Each partner has their own characteristics, and they teach me a lot of things, let me realise some truth of life, or to improve the thought of badminton. They are very helpful to me in different stages, and they are also the people who accompany me in every stage.
What other sports do you like besides badminton?
I learned to play tennis when I was a kid, and I’m learning to play tennis now. I’m also learning to snowboard, so I’d also like to go to places like Switzerland and Japan where there’s skiing.
I can play other sports, my tennis is ok, football is ok, maybe my sports genes are good.
Do you have any regrets in your career?
I don’t feel any regret, because I made every decision for myself, and I walked every section of the road, so I feel happy.
Read Part 1: Matters of the Heart — Li Yin Hui’s Early Goodbye