Guangzhou, China: Chinese superstar Lin Dan took the badminton world title for a fifth time Sunday after his arch rival Lee Chong Wei was stretchered off the court in the third game.
The current world number one from Malaysia dropped to his haunches at 19-16 down, and then tried to recover. (Sport is 'cruel', says Lin Dan after Lee Chong Wei injury)
But he had to retire from the match at 20-17 -- leaving Lin, who is world and Olympic champion, to take the title 16-21, 21-13, 20-17.
"It would appear that he suffered some cramps and he has subsequently been taken to hospital," said Gayle Alleyne, communications manager for badminton's world body the BWF at a press conference after the match.
Lee had been hoping to end a run of high-profile defeats at the hands of Lin -- widely regarded as the game's best-ever player -- who beat him in the previous world title men's singles final and in the two last Olympic finals.
Lin, 29, known as "Super Dan", was making his comeback at the tournament with a controversial wildcard place after a year on the sidelines to spend time with his family.
"He got this cramp out there and it reminded me of my training -- when you have that, you cannot move at all. From that moment we were not opponents any more. I really wanted to help and I went over to ask if he was OK. He didn't want to give up."
Lin's top-seed teammate Li Xuerui was hoping to take women's singles gold but lost out to 18-year-old Thai star Ratchanok Intanon who combined stamina and skill to defeat the Olympic champion and become her country's first ever world title winner.
China had taken a clean sweep of the world championship titles in the last two tournaments but only walked away with two golds from a possible four Sunday, with Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli taking the women's doubles.
"If I had lost we would only have won one gold medal and it would have been embarrassing," said Lin. "The good thing is I'm not the head coach."
Badminton legends Lin and Lee put on a brilliant display in the first set in front of a packed Tianhe gymnasium in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.
Lin took an early lead against Lee, leaving the crowd gasping at 5-3 with a return so quick that he hardly seemed to know about it himself.
Lee got back on level terms but Lin got the better of a titanic rally to go into the break leading 11-10.
The two stayed neck and neck -- a nimble Lee leaping around the court and Lin moving fluidly often at full stretch to reach the Malaysian's well-placed shots.
Lee pulled ahead with Lin berating himself after putting a return long to go behind 14-18, and the Malaysian capitalised to take the first game.
Lin came out fighting in the second, romping to a merciless 11-1 lead with Lee leaving shots to go long that dropped just in.
As the temperature soared in the stadium with the air conditioning off during the second game, the crowd fanned themselves furiously and Lee battled to catch up, but Lin took the second 21-13.
Lee was determined in the third game but the defending champion played precision shots to the baseline to go into the break 11-10 up.
Lin went 19-16 up with a smash down the line and Lee crouched down on his haunches.
Lee's legs were sprayed by a doctor called onto the court, and he won the next point with lightning returns before dropping to the floor again in the middle of the next point.
The crowd shouted his name in encouragement and Lin went over to his opponent's side of the court to speak to him.
But the umpire announced the Malaysian was retiring injured at 20-17, leaving a shirtless Lin to celebrate while Lee was stretchered away.
Third-ranked Indonesian duo Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir fought back from behind to defeat top seeds Xu Chen and Ma Jin in a nailbiting finish to the mixed doubles.
And Indonesia were celebrating again after men's doubles pair Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan beat Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen of Denmark in two sets.