Badminton-Former World Number One Kento Momota Announces Retirement

Fisker/Ritzau Scanpix via REUTERS
Thomas Cup – Aarhus, Denmark – October 14, 2021 Japan’s Kento Momota celebrates after winning his match Claus.

Japan’s two-time world champion Kento Momota said on Thursday he is retiring from badminton, after the former world number one failed to qualify for the Paris Olympics.

Momota won the world championships in 2018 and 2019 but struggled to return to top form after being injured in a fatal vehicle accident in Malaysia in early 2020 when the van he was travelling in crashed into a truck.

Momota was left with double vision and needed surgery to repair a fractured eye socket after the crash, which left the driver of the van dead.

The 29-year-old is ranked 52nd in the world, making him the seventh-highest ranked Japanese man. Only the top two players from one nation can qualify for the Games.

“I’ve realized I can no longer get back to the point where I’m aiming to be No. 1 in the world again. I had a very fulfilling career playing for the national team,” Momota told reporters.

Momota made his Olympic debut at Tokyo, where he suffered an early exit. He missed the Rio Games in 2016 after being suspended for gambling.

Momota’s last competition will be the April 27-May 5 Thomas & Uber Cup in Chengdu, China.