Badminton great Chen Long 'full of emotion' as he retires at 34

China's Chen Long poses with his men's singles badminton silver medal at a ceremony during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza in Tokyo on August 2, 2021. (Photo: AFP)

Chinese badminton great Chen Long has announced his retirement aged 34, ending a decorated career that included Olympic gold and two world titles.

The former world number one won the Olympic crown at Rio 2016 and followed it up with silver at the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

He has not played since and has now officially called it quits, following in the steps of legendary Chinese player and teammate Lin Dan, who retired in 2020.

Chinese shuttler Chen Long during a game. (Photo: VCG)

"This is a difficult moment for me. It's so hard to say goodbye," Chen wrote on the Twitter-like Weibo late Friday.

"At this special moment, I'm really full of emotion. I want to say thank you to the Chinese badminton team, my family and the fans.

"Badminton is the love of my life. I was lucky enough to wear the national shirt and play for my country, because not all dreams come true in life," he added.

Chen's achievements were often overshadowed by the more charismatic Lin, but he was hugely successful in his own right, winning the world title in 2014 and 2015.

He also took bronze at the London 2012 Games, ensuring he retires with an Olympic medal of every color.