Feature | Badminton

Momota Kento discusses new perspective after near-death experience

Japan's two-time world champion has "new sense of determination for badminton" ahead of comeback after escaping last January's car crash. 

By Sanjeev Palar ·

The year 2020 has been very challenging for everyone, and Momota Kento is merely grateful to be alive.

Japan's world number one badminton player was involved in a car crash which claimed the life of his driver in January.

He was later found to require surgery on a fractured eye socket, and will make his return to competitive action in the All-Japan Championship in Tokyo with the men's first round starting Wednesday (23 December).

Speaking exclusively with Olympic Channel, the two-time reigning world champion revealed how the events of this year have fuelled his desire for Olympic success even further.

"After an experience like that, I have a new sense of determination for badminton. I know what I have to do." - Momota Kento

Momota committed to live "each day to the fullest" after car crash

Japan's badminton world number one Momota Kento escaped with a fractured ey...

The road to recovery

After a dominant 2019, Momota picked up where he left off with victory in the Malaysian Masters in early January.

But an early morning trip to Kuala Lumpur International Airport the day after that success altered everything.

Momota recalls that he was "asleep in the van and woke up on impact".

He initially had no idea what had happened, but it slowly dawned on him that they had been involved in a road accident.

"Everyone looked really rough. And then we were taken away from the scene in a bus." - Momota Kento

Momota eventually flew back to Japan and it was later discovered that he had also suffered a fracture to his eye socket and underwent surgery.

That coupled with the global pandemic means the left-hander has played just one tournament so far this year.

He will make that two when he competes in this week's All-Japan Championship, and says he has no doubts about his fitness as he prepares for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The 26-year-old said, "I feel completely recovered. Physically, I feel the way I felt before I got injured. I’m at where I need to be.

"I feel completely recovered. When I’m playing I have no issues at all." - Momota Kento

Gaining perspective

Momota's brush with death saw him confront some of his biggest fears.

"I might not be walking today had the crash turned out even slightly different. I could have been killed, just like that," Momota reveals.

This stark realisation has helped reshape his approach to badminton, the sport he has dedicated his whole life to.

"From being on the court playing badminton again, to anything else I do, I take none of it for granted." he said, adding "when you understand that, you try to seize the day."

"I’m much more committed to living each day to the fullest." - Kento Momota

Kento Momota - Mister Unbeatable

The number one player on the planet, and two-time World Champion, is having...