Kuala Lumpur: The 2016 season sure felt like a particularly bad one for Kento Momota as he was ranked World No. 2 but received an indefinite suspension from Nippon Badminton Association after Momota has admitted gambling at illegal casino, which prevented him from participating in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the Thomas Cup in Kunshan, China, where Japan failed to defend the title they won in 2014.
The Nippon Badminton Association has then decided to lift Momota’s suspension on March 12th, 2017.
Momota returned to his first international competition July last year, where he finished runner-up at the Canada Open and won five consecutive international titles after that.
This year, Momota has demonstrated the ability to get back to the top of world ranking by displaying perfect timing and rhythm control during important matches, his net shots and attacks were more mature and often deadly to his opponents.
He showed his dominance by defeating Shi Yuqi, Chou Tien Chen, Lee Chong Wei, before sweeping past Olympic champion Chen Long to win the Asian Badminton Championship in Wuhan, China, on April 29.
Momota also overcame World Champion Viktor Axelsen in the Thomas Cup semi-final tie between Japan and Denmark and was once again got the better of Chen Long 21-8, 21-18 in the Thomas Cup final.
Although Japan were defeated by China 1-3 in the Thomas Cup final, it’s clear that he’s ready and determined to make a comeback to the top of badminton world.
So, what is Momota’s secret to turn himself back on stardom?
“During the suspension, I was focusing on improving my physical condition,” said Momota.
“That was really a difficult time for me. However, I used the time to evaluate my mistake and re-start my career,” added Momota.
“I was teaching young kids playing badminton at that time. By seeing how hard those kids practice, that really reignite my passion for the sport,” said Momota during a press conference.
It’s no doubt that after defeating Viktor Axelsen, Lee Chong Wei, Chen Long, and Shi Yuqi in the span of one month, Momota is definitely aiming for the World No. 1 spot and would be the player to beat in the upcoming Asian Games and World Championships.