Former world No. 1 Kento Momota retires from international badminton at 29

1 month ago 28

Updated

Apr 18, 2024, 12:04 PM

Published

Apr 18, 2024, 12:00 PM

TOKYO – Two-time world champion Kento Momota said on April 18 that he is retiring from international badminton aged 29, ending a top-level career that never recovered from a car crash four years ago.

Momota, who had already missed out on a place at this summer’s Paris Olympics, will play for Japan for the last time at the Thomas Cup in China later in April, he confirmed at a press conference in Tokyo.

He will feature only in domestic competitions in Japan after that and not on badminton’s World Tour.

“I have made this decision because it feels like I have reached my physical and mental limit in trying to get back to being the best in the world,” said the former world No. 1, now ranked 52nd.

“I’ve realised 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. Now I want be involved in helping all kinds of people find enjoyment in sports.”

Momota was once badminton’s undisputed king, winning 11 titles in 2019 and losing just six of the 73 matches he played that year.

But his life was turned upside down in January 2020 when the vehicle taking him to Kuala Lumpur airport crashed hours after he won the Malaysia Masters.

The driver was killed and Momota needed surgery to repair a fractured eye socket. He suffered double vision and struggled to regain his previous form when he returned to competition after a year out of action.

The Japanese lost in the opening round at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and fell at the first hurdle in four of the first five tournaments he entered the following year.

He was also hampered by injuries and saw his world ranking plummet as former rival Viktor Axelsen of Denmark established himself as badminton’...

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