Olympic badminton: Lin Dan retains singles gold after fierce battle
The match was a lot closer than the one-sided final four years ago, with Lin prevailing in a deciding game for a 15-21, 21-10, 21-19 victory.
Lin, 28, becomes the first man to retain the Olympic title; and he takes China to within one match of a clean sweep of the gold medals in London.
Lee hit long to hand Lin the gold on match point, prompting wild celebrations from the Chinese camp.
The final looked to be headed the Malaysian's way as Lee looked far sharper in the early exchanges.
In the first set, Lin gifted his opponent game point with a bad leave, and lifted long to give his opponent the early advantage.
But Lee handed the initiative to his opponent in game two, shipping five points cheaply with wayward lifts and net shots as Lin went 16-8 up.
An attacking crosscourt clear handed Lin a game point, and Lee obliged with a half-
hearted stab into the net.
Lee took an early 8-5 lead in the deciding set, but he allowed Lin to go 11-9 up with a series of un-forced errors that began with an errant flick serve.
Lin showed nerves of his own, though, putting consecutive smashes and drop shots wide for 12-12.
An exhibition in pinpoint smashing took them to 15-15, before Lin netted and then Lee misjudged a clear to bring them to 19-19.
Lin earned a gold medal point and converted it at the end of a mammoth rally, as Lee went long on a clear from the net.
Earlier in the day, China's Chen Long won the singles bronze, beating South Korea's Hyun Il Lee 21-12, 15-21, 21-15.
Top seeds Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng take on Danish pair and third seeds Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen in the men's doubles final later in the day.