Kento Momota: Badminton Is Not Fun Anymore

Hope Kento Momota can regain his top form quickly! (photo: news every)
Hope Kento Momota can regain his top form quickly! (photo: news every)

Tokyo: Kento Momota’s ranking has dropped to World No. 9 in the latest Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings published on Tuesday, Oct 11, 2022.

In an exclusive interview by Kimiko Jinnai at the end of September 2022, the former World No. 1 revealed the difficulties he has gone through in the last two years, and what he needed to do in order to get back to the top of the world.

Jinnai: It’s been 2 years since I interviewed you, do you still remember?
Momota: Yes. It’s been two years already.

Video of Momota’s interview with Jinnai:

Jinnai: It’s been a year since the Tokyo Olympics. How do you feel?
Momota: Thinking about it now, it feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve played at the Olympics.

Jinnai: Did you watch the Olympics?
Momota: I don’t watch it very often. I’m the type who doesn’t watch my lost matches from the old days.

Jinnai: Was your first Olympics different from what you imagined?
Momota: It was completely different. In my mind, I had this image of standing on the highest podium and listening to the national anthem, but the result was far from what I expected, and I think I’m gradually losing my confidence.

Jinnai: Two years ago, when I asked you if you are ready to win the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, you said, “I’m ready!”
Momota: Yes. I thought I had done everything I could before the Olympics, but…

Jinnai: Didn’t you feel like you didn’t want to watch or play badminton after the Olympics were over?
Momota: Honestly, I thought it was a mess.

Jinnai: A while ago, I remembered you said: “I like badminton. It’s fun.” How about now?
Momota: No, right now, it’s really painful. I don’t have any excitement, but I have to do it. I just can’t win … I am currently in a situation where I don’t know what I’m lacking in myself.

Jinnai: Are you scared to stand on the badminton court now?
Momota: It’s not scary, but I’m starting to lose confidence as I play.

Jinnai: How did you feel during the past year?
Momota: I don’t have a specific goal in mind, but I try to do what I can in my daily practice. I have been trying to improve my weakness and I keep practicing with that in mind.

Jinnai: Are you tired of being the center of attention right now?
Momota: It’s exhausting, but when the attention is gone, I feel like I’m gone too. I think it’s how I perceive it, so I am trying my best to perceive the attention I get in a positive way. I have to work harder so that I can bring in positive energy.

One year has passed since the defeat in the group stage at Tokyo Olympics. Momota has vowed to make a comeback and really worked hard at training. Unfortunately, he was eliminated in the second round of the 2022 World Championships, losing to H. S. Prannoy of India 17-21, 16-21.

In the following week after the World Championships, Momota lost to Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo of Indonesia 15-21, 20-22 in the first round of the 2022 Japan Open.

In order to regain his lost confidence, Momota said “I need to see results…” and admitted that’s what he is currently lacking.

Jinnai: How did you feel at the World Championships and Japan Open held in Japan this year?
Momota: Since we didn’t win at the Tokyo Olympics, I didn’t think there was a chance we can win the title.

Jinnai: Did you feel pressure to compete at those events in Japan?
Momota: I feel like I don’t even know what had happened, or I don’t know how to explain it.

Jinnai: Your teammate – Kenta Nishimoto won the Japan Open. Did you feel any uneasiness?
Momota: We’ve been practicing together for a long time, and I think he’s a good player.

Jinnai: Didn’t that make you feel like, “Okay, let’s do it again”?
Momota: Rather than worrying about other people, I think I have to change myself first, so I don’t feel pushed by others around me.

Jinnai: What kind of playing style is getting popular in men’s singles now?
Momota: I think more players are playing aggressively right now. But I think it’s useless if you can’t defend yourself, and of course, you also need to be able to attack. But for myself, I don’t think I am the type of player who can land strong smashes. I don’t want to break my style, so I have no intention of changing it.

Jinnai: Can you win one more time without changing?
Momota: I think that style probably suits me. We were winning before, so I don’t think we need to change that.

Jinnai: What is your goal now?
Momota: I would like to win another title at a big tournament where everyone is participating.

Jinnai: Do you think it would be difficult for someone like you who has won so many to win one?
Momota: Yes, it’s really difficult. It’s really good to be able to win.

Jinnai: Everyone is saying “Paris Olympics in two years,”, do you have “Paris” in your mind?
Momota: Nope. I don’t want to think it’s an easy thing to qualify for the Paris Olympics. It’s going to be hard.

Jinnai: Didn’t the word “Paris” appear in your mind at all?
Momota: I’m not the type to set long-term goals from the start. Not at all for now.

Jinnai: Is there something you want to win before the Olympics?
Momota: Yes. I want to go out and win one tournament desperately.

Jinnai: What kind of results do you think are waiting for you?
Momota: First, I want to rest and enjoy myself for a while as I turned 28. I don’t want to play the sport that makes me feel very painful right now. If I am able to get over this feeling, I’ll regain my motivation and I think the results I’m looking for will follow.

Jinnai: How will you keep your motivation going?
Momota: To be honest, I don’t think my career as a player will be that long since I’ve turned 28, so I’d like to go back to the top one more time. I will do my best to motivate myself to achieve that.

Momota will not compete at the upcoming Denmark Open (18 to 23 October 2022) and French Open (25 to 30 October). And it is very likely the he would be very selective in competing at future tournaments for the remaining of 2022.


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