October 16, 2008 / 8:10 AM / 12 years ago

Chinese sweethearts put love match on ice

Lin Dan of China plays a shot during the men's badminton singles final match against Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 17, 2008. REUTERS/Alvin Chan

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese badminton sweethearts Lin Dan and Xie Xingfang have put their marriage plans on ice to focus on regaining their number one rankings, local media reported Thursday.

Beijing Olympic champion Lin, who lost his world number one spot to Malaysian rival Lee Chong Wei last week, has scuppered his 27-year-old girlfriend’s plans to retire and become a housewife, the China Daily said.

Xie, who held the number one spot for most of the year but lost the Olympic championship bout to compatriot Zhang Ning, will go back on the tour instead, the paper quoted her as saying.

“I want to try to compete with a relaxed mind and really enjoy playing badminton in future. If I can manage to do this and adjust myself well, I will continue my sports career,” Xie said.

The high-profile couple’s wedding was to be the latest in a string of celebrity marriages involving Olympic champions who held off exchanging vows to concentrate on the Games.

Table tennis champion Wang Nan, fencing gold medallist Zhong Man, and double Olympic taekwondo champion Chen Zhong have all recently tied the knot. Men’s gymnastics champions Yang Wei and Li Xiaopeng are also busy preparing.

“Their weddings were pleasant and sweet. But right now we will not think about (getting married) as Lin is still focusing on his sports career,” Xie said. “I can understand and will support him.”

Reporting by Liu Zhen; Editing by Ian Ransom and Alastair Himmer

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