2016 Curtain Call Collage

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As the retirement announcements continue to trickle in, we present to you this photo array of those players who have entertained us over the years but who have said or are saying good-bye to international badminton this year.

Photos: Badmintonphoto

And we thought it was bad late last year when the badminton world lost such luminaries as Imogen Bankier, Andrew Ellis, Adriyanti Firdasari, and Wang Xiaoli in the space of a few weeks!  Perhaps predictably, the list for the final curtain call in the aftermath of the Rio Olympics is much longer.

In fact, we didn’t know it yet but at the time that Vita Marissa announced and then retracted her retirement notice last December, we had already seen the last international ranking competition for at least two world-class players and three more were to make their last appearances in the first two months of 2016, although only Saralee Thoungthongkam – whose own good-bye was precipitated by a serious injury – gave the news right away.

Below, we present you with the photos of the players we know of who have called it quits in 2016, at least from international ranking competition.  We have reported on most of these already, after comments from the players directly, from reports in their local press, and from announcements from the BWF itself.  Some of these players might return in the future and many of them will still continue to play in domestic events and/or professional leagues.

We have done our best to find photos from each player’s last international match, and Badmintonphoto personnel have indeed been on site for this occasion in over half of cases.  The biggest collection was at the Rio Olympics, where no fewer than eight players bid farewell – though most of them after the fact – but another half dozen took their final bow this past weekend at the Bitburger Open.  We hope you enjoy.

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One fairy-tale down…

Two departing players stand out from the crowd.  One of them, Lee Yong Dae, may have been unable to win a medal at his last Olympics but he returned a month later to win a home Superseries title in his last international appearance.  Badmintonphoto’s Yves Lacroix was on hand to capture so many of those moments that we take this opportunity to present a special feature from them.  Behold, the Many Faces of Lee Yong Dae…

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…and one more fairy-tale to go?

One other player is distinctive in that he is the only retiree who won gold at the Rio Olympic Games.  Fu Haifeng has also announced that he will make this year’s Superseries Finals in Dubai his last international tournament.

The December event is one of the biggest – along with the Asian Games men’s doubles gold – accomplishments that have eluded him throughout his illustrious career and this time, he has a wild card to compete with competition neither from the reigning World Champions, nor from the world #1 or indeed any Korean pairs, nor likely from 3-time champions Boe/Mogensen.  Instead, the still formidable challenge to Fu and partner Zhang Nan will be led by the pair they beat for gold in Rio and will include whichever of their talented compatriots accompany them to Dubai.  Fu Haifeng may well be capable of ending his international career with his own fairy-tale ending.

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