It's never too late to experience the Olympics. Especially when these take place at home. So is the fate of Kento Momota, who is one of the biggest gold medal hopes of the host country of the Tokyo Games. But he says he is simply happy to participate in the competition after having fractured his eye socket in a car accident in January 2020. The world number 1 in badminton had then declared that his "
spirit was almost broken
" , as he tried to recover from the accident that killed the driver of the vehicle hours after winning the Kuala Lumpur Masters. Plagued with vision problems, he had to be operated on, which delayed his return to competition and made him fear an untimely end of his career."
I thought about it
The Olympic medal table
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Read also: The Tokyo 2020 medal table
But Momota has made a full recovery and is entering his very first Olympics as a favorite. Before his accident, he was virtually unrivaled and had won eleven titles in 2019, including a world coronation. That year, the left-hander had lost just six of the 73 matches he had played. But Momota's rise to the top followed a spectacular disgrace a few months before the Rio Olympics: he admitted to playing in an underground casino in April 2016 and was then suspended by the Japanese federation. He returned a year later, then knocking out Olympic champion Chen Long for the Asian title in April 2018 before moving up the rankings. "
I still have remorse
" for what happened before Rio and "
for those who supported me when I was not playing, I want to reimburse them in one way or another in Tokyo,
”he said at the end of 2019.
And a positive control for Covid-19 in addition
But then came the accident and a pandemic that led to the cancellation of badminton tournaments around the world. Momota played his first game in nearly a year at the Japan Championships in Tokyo last December and started off cautiously before beating Kanta Tsuneyama in the final. His hopes of returning to international competition were then dashed when he tested positive for the coronavirus at the airport in January, as the Japanese team prepared to leave for the Thailand Open. The pressure to win at home is "
", he declared, recalling that he wanted to honor the 18,500 victims of the triple disaster of March 11, 2011 (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident in Fukushima where he grown up). "
How confident am I? Well, someone holding back wouldn't win, so I say 100%. I can win 100% gold
, ”he warned.