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Former world champion Momota retires from international badminton

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-05-09 13:37
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Japan's badminton player Kento Momota attends a press conference to announce his retirement from Japan's national team during the Thomas Cup men's group world championship in Chengdu of Southwest China May 3, 2024. [Photo/VCG]

CHENGDU, China - Japanese badminton star Kento Momota has announced his retirement from international competition following Japan's elimination from the Thomas Cup at the hands of Malaysia on Thursday.

Momota, a two-time world champion, was slated to play as the third singles player in the fifth match but did not compete as Japan had already lost 3-1 by the fourth match.

During a press conference on Friday, Momota confirmed his retirement plans but expressed his intention to remain involved in the sport.

"My international career has officially ended but I will continue to play badminton and engage in many badminton-related activities. I hope to meet everyone again in some form in the future," he said.

"I want to share the passion and understanding I've gained from badminton with more people. It would be great if I could give some advice so that more people can enjoy badminton and I will be more involved in such activities."

The former world No. 1 announced his retirement last month and chose the Thomas Cup in Chengdu, Southwest China, as the event for his last dance.

Now ranked 52nd, he claimed three victories for Japan in the group stage.

"I really enjoy the team competition so I chose the Thomas Cup as my last tournament. I had a very fulfilling week," said Momota.

"I've had a lot of tough things in my ten-year national team career and thanks to everyone's support I've been able to get this far," he added, "I believe that records are meant to be surpassed and I hope the next generation in Japan will grow up quickly and break my record."

The 29-year-old, who was once considered the best player, clinched 11 titles in 2019 and won 67 of his 73 matches that year.

A car crash in 2020 was a watershed moment in Momota's career, as he was injured in the accident after winning the Malaysia Masters in January, in which the driver died and he received eye socket surgery.

The Japanese former ace admitted in April that he never regained his previous form after the crash.

At the Thomas Cup, Momota's old opponents Viktor Axelsen, Shi Yuqi and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting sent him their best wishes.

"It's lucky to play against top players from various countries like them. The matches against them have been grueling and joyful. Thanks to them, it also made me stronger."

"I am going to retire from international competitions but they are going to be active on the court and I hope they play well and attract more fans," he added.

The badminton legend also thanked his fans from all over the world.

"When I first started playing badminton, I didn't expect to be loved by so many people. I feel honored to be able to retire with the support of you."

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