• Lin Dan was the only high-profile badminton player at the Olympic test event.

Lin Dan was the only high-profile badminton player at the Olympic test event. (Photo : Getty Images)

Chinese Olympic gold medalist and world badminton champion Lin Dan has officially left his 20-year military life after retiring from the People's Liberation Army (PLA) badminton team on Friday.

The 32-year-old Lin, who hails from Longyan City in southwest China's Fujian Province, left his hometown at the age of 12 to enlist in the army as part of its official badminton team, the Bayi Badminton Club. As an athlete for Bayi, he was barred from being involved in any commercial activities without the club's permission.

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Despite this, Lin has engaged in controversial behavior in recent years, including appearing in numerous commercials and sporting tattoos, earning him the ire of many in the country.

In September, he launched his own underwear brand and personally endorsed its products, an action strictly prohibited by the Bayi Club.

Facing criticism, Lin said leaving the club is his personal decision.

"I used to serve in the army, and now I'm demobilized. I'm so lucky to have chance to try on different roles and keep the badminton career I love," Lin told the China Daily newspaper.

According to Lin, leaving Bayi means he could spend more time and energy on his commercial pursuits. He hopes to make the most of the last few years of his career as a professional badminton player and plan ahead for his future.

According to a spokesman from the Bayi Badminton Club, Lin has earned awards and a military rank in exchange for his contributions to the club.

But with Bayi's loss, there's a gain for Lin's new boss: the Beijing Badminton Team. In a statement from Yonex, a Japanese sporting equipment manufacturer and one of Lin's major sponsors, the Olympic medalist will represent Beijing in the 2017 National Games in Tianjin.