Tokyo: After Japanese World No. 1 women’s doubles pair Ayaka Takahashi and Misaki Matsutomo defeated Naoko Fukuman and Kurumi Yonao 21-13, 21-15 in an all-Japan women’s badminton doubles final at the Asian Championships, Takahashi/Matsutomo have been named among the nine Japanese shuttlers who clinched their spots in all five disciplines at the Rio Olympics.
Fukuman and Yonao, ranked ninth in the world, could have joined their top-ranked compatriots at this summer’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics with a win if Japan instructed their players to play the “Li Yongbo style” badminton when Ayaka Takahashi and Misaki Matsutomo handed the Asian Championships title to Fukuman/Yonao via walkovers or retired from the match. Instead, both pairs fought hard with a lot of energy in the final, until Takahashi/Matsutomo finally emerged victorious in 53 minutes.
Heading Japan’s men’s singles list will be Sho Sasaki, replacing fourth-ranked Kento Momota who was removed from the rankings after he received an indefinite suspension last month for gambling at an illegal casinos in Japan.
Sasaki will be the only Japanese shuttler to take part in two successive Summer Games this time. Seventh-ranked pair Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa clinched the berth in the men’s doubles.
World No. 5 Nozomi Okuhara, and World No. 11 18-year-old Akane Yamaguchi have filled up the 2 slots in women’s singles.
Kenta Kazuno and Ayane Kurihara also confirmed their qualification after they were ranked World No. 18 in the latest world rankings.