Tokyo: Kenichi Tago who played a critical role in defeating China in the semifinals of the 2014 Thomas cup tournament, has decided to quit the Japan national team starting on October 1. The Nippon Badminton Association had announced that Tago will be competing as an independent shuttler going forward.
The former World No. 3 set the stage to crumble the Great Wall of China at 2014 Thomas Cup defeating world number two Chen Long 21-13, 21-11 in 43 minutes to score the first point for Japan. Japan eventually hammered the defending champions China 3-0 (unbeaten since 2004) in Thomas Cup semifinals and went on to lift their first ever Thomas Cup in New Delhi, beating Malaysia 3-2 in the final.
Kenichi Tago burst onto the badminton scene at 2010 All England, where he beat seeded players including Nguyen Tien Minh, Chen Jin and Bao Chunlai en route to the All England final. However, he lost to first seed and reigning World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei from Malaysia with a score of 21–19 and 21–19 to finish runner-up.
He represented Japan in the 2012 Olympics, but faces uphill battle in Rio Olympic qualifying, as he is currently ranked World No. 37, a large distance behind some of his compatriots such as World No. 4 Kento Momota, World No. 22 Sho Sasaki, and World No. 27 Takuma Ueda.
Despite the steep qualifying times and his slim chances of Olympic qualification, if he works really hard and compete in as many tournaments as possible to collect Olympic qualifying points, it is still possible that he could secure a place for next year’s Olympic Games in Brazil. We would like to wish him all the best in chasing his Olympic dream in 2016.