18/04/2024 04:31 PM

TOKYO, April 18 (Bernama-Kyodo) -- Former badminton world champion Kento Momota announced on Thursday that he will retire from playing for the Japanese national team, Kyodo news agency reported.

Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo, the 29-year-old said he would represent Japan for the last time at the Thomas Cup international team competition, starting later this month in Chengdu, China.

Momota became the first Japanese man to win the world championship in 2018 and defended his title the following year.

A recent run of injuries has left the former world No. 1 with no hope of qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

"I've realised I can no longer get back to the point where I'm aiming to be No. 1 in the world again," Momota said.

"I had a very fulfilling career playing for the national team. Now, I want to be involved in helping all kinds of people find enjoyment in sports."

The Kagawa Prefecture native was a dominant force at his peak, capturing a record 11 singles titles in the 2019 season. However, his career was also marked by controversy and tragedy.

Momota lost his chance to contend for a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics after being suspended for gambling at illegal casinos in Japan.

Following his victory at the Malaysia Masters in January 2020, he was injured in a car crash near Kuala Lumpur that killed the driver of the van in which he was a passenger.

He did not win another title until November of the following year and made a disappointing group-stage exit at the Tokyo Olympics in the interim.

Momota plans to continue playing domestically in the national championships and the professional S/J League.


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