Japan badminton team look to move past gambling scandal

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Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi are eyeing for Olympic gold in Rio. (photo: Yoshiaki Miura)

Tokyo: The Japanese badminton team’s morale was low when Japanese rising badminton star, 21-year-old Kento Momota and six-time Japan national champion Kenichi Tago have been expelled from the national team after they admitted to gamble at illegal casinos.Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi are eyeing for Olympic gold in Rio. (photo: Yoshiaki Miura)

However, with 3 weeks to go until the badminton events begins in Rio Olympics, the head coach of Japan Olympic badminton team – Park Joo-bong insisted that his team has slowly recovered from that scandal, and the players have been training very hard on the Rio Games.

“It was a big problem, but only for the 2 players involved. It has nothing to do with other Japanese players,” said Park.

“Luckily, we have recovered from that incident and we are now focusing on only the Olympics,” added Park.

Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi who became the first Japanese women’s doubles pair to capture the All-England Championships in March, will be Japan’s biggest medal hopes in Rio.

“We have been playing together for 10 years, thanks to my teacher who paired us together in high school,” said Matsutomo.

In women’s singles, 21-year-old Nozomi Okuhara who beat Wang Shixian in March to end Japan’s 39-year drought by winning the All-England women’s singles event, also aiming for more success in Rio next month.

“I am not afraid of any of the top players,” said Okuhara.

With Kento Momota’s absence, World No. 8 men’s doubles pair Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa became Japan’s best chance of a medal on the men’s side.

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