Former Olympic gold medalist Li Xuerui has announced her retirement from international badminton, the BWF announced on Thursday. She was one of the most dominating badminton players of the last decade before an injury at the Rio Olympics 2016 ruined her career.
Li’s first major title came at the Badminton Asia Championships in 2010, when as a 19-year-old she defeated Saina Nehwal and compatriot Liu Xin on way to the title. She quickly rose through the ranks and was soon among the favourites at most of the top-tier events. She won her first BWF Superseries title at the 2012 All England tournament. The biggest moment of her career came later that year when she won gold in the women's singles event at the London Olympics.
Li was ranked world no.1 between 2013 and 2015, but she went on to lose two consecutive finals of the BWF World Championships in 2013 and 2014 to Thailand's young Ratchanok Intanon and Spain's Carolina Marin respectively. She was the favourite to grab gold at Rio Olympics but suffered an injury, which was later diagnosed as an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) rupture in the semifinal against Marin. She lost the match and was out of action for over a year.
This was Li's first major tournament and she went on to win the Asian Championship. In the final she defeated her compatriot, Liu Xin 21–13, 18–21, 21–19 to grab gold.
In 2012, she replicated her heroics from the 2010 Asian Championship and won the title by defeating Wang Yihan with a score of 21–16, 16–21, 21–9.
In 2012, Li was at the pinnacle of her career. She made her first appearance at the Olympic Games and on August 5, she won the London Olympic gold medal, in the final she defeated fellow compatriot Wang Yihan in three games to win with a score of 21–15, 21–23, 21–17.
In the 2013 World Championship, she won a silver medal in the World Championship when she was defeated by Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon with a score of 22–20, 18–21, 14–21. In 2014, she again managed to get to the final of the World Championships but she lost to the Spanish player Carolina Marín with a score of 21–17, 17–21, 18–21.
She won the 2014 Denmark Open and in 2015, Li again managed to defend her title. In the final, she defeated P. V. Sindhu of India with a score of 21-19, 21-12.