First Japanese Man to win All England Championships: KENTO Momota
Kento Momota, the 24-year-young Japanese sensation created history at the All England Championships by becoming the first Japanese badminton player to lift the men’s Championships’ title at Birmingham, UK. Momota triumphed 21-11, 15-21, 21-15 over Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen. The All England Open 2019 was the sixth tournament of the 2019 BWF World Tour. The All England Championships is the oldest badminton tournament in the world, which was started in the year 1899.
Kento Momota holds the World No. 1 spot. Apart from being the World Champion, Momota also holds the title of being the Asian Champion. Soon after vanquishing Viktor Axelsen, he exclaimed, “I was super happy! The 2020 Olympic qualifying race begins in May. It gives me a lot of confidence and I was able to win the pre-Olympic event, which everyone wanted to win. But, the battle starts from here. I want to work hard to raise my level.”
Kento Momota was playing at the 109th edition of the All England Championships for the first time in three years. He had made his debut in the world famous championships in 2014. Malaysian top seed Lee Chong Wei had defeated the 19-year-young Momota in straight games. This time, Momota displayed great speed and control to lift the title.
Momta won the first game 21-11. Axelsen bounced back to win the second 21-15 to push the title match for the decider. Axelsen confidence saw him leading Momota with straight four points. Momota was forced to play defensive till he matched Axelsen to equal the score at 9-9. He displayed superb control by hitting a flurry of close-range hairpin net shots. He led the match 12-11 and then never looked back.
Kento Momota won seven straight points to become the first Japanese man to win lift the All England Championships’ Men’s Title. Japan started competing at the All England Championships way back in 1963. In the last 55 years, Japanese men had failed to win at the oldest badminton championships.
True to his World No. 1 status, Momota displayed true grit and gumption of a champion. The Japanese had skipped last year to play at the All England Championships, because of his low ranking after his gambling suspension in 2016. However, it is difficult to put down a true champion for long. Momota has bounced back to rise like a phoenix to grab the World No. 1 rank.
He revealed, “Of course, I felt the pressure as the World No.1. It was not easy but, because of everyone's support I managed to win this tournament… so, thank you everyone.” The Japanese went onto acknowledge Viktor Axelsen ssaying, “He is a good rival and I hope, we are going to keep improving each other.”
Kento Momota was born on the 1st of September 1994 in a small town called Mino in Kagawa Prefecture, Japan. A truly gifted badminton player, Little Kento showcased immense talent during his junior level matches. His parents played badminton with him, when he was still in the second grade of elementary school. Little Kento won his first title of his life by winning the All Japan Elementary School Championships.
Kento joined the Junior High School in Fukuoka Prefecture after his elementary school. At the junior level, Kento won the All Japan Junior High School Championships. He graduated from Fukuoka High School.
The Journey of Success:
Kento Momota’s rise started early in his career at the junior level. At the age of just 17, Kento competed at the 2011 World Junior Championship in Taiwan. He reached the semifinals in his first attempt at the world stage. However, he lost to Malaysian Zulfadli Zulkiffli, who went onto become the 2011 World Junior Champion. By the year end, Kento’s talent saw him competing at the senior level. He participated in the 2011 Japan National Championship. He lost to Kenichi Tago in the final. The NBA – Nippon Badminton Association noticed this young man, who soon joined the Japanese National Team.
In the year 2012, Kento Momota competed at the 2012 Asian Junior Championship in South Korea. He is an intelligent player, who learned fast from his previous defeats. Momota avenged his defeat by vanquishing Malaysian Soong Joo Ven in straight games 21-13, 22-20 to lift the Asian Junior Champion title. He repeated his flawless performance to lift the 2012 World Junior Championships’ title in his home country Chiba, Japan. He donated gold in public and gained immense popularity with his compassionate act. Momota defeated the Chinese opponent Xue Song in a closely contested match 21-17, 19-21 and 21-19.
Kento Momota’s meteoric rise grabbed attention of the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corporation, the badminton club of NTT East. Momota joined the Club officially in April 2013. NTT happens to be the largest telecommunications company in Japan. Momota was 19 at the time of joining the club and started working at the telecommunications company. He learned time management as a professional at the company. He actively performed his work at the company, practice with the Japanese National Team and was active at the Club.
Kento Momota was sent to participate in the International Challenge competitions. He did not disappoint the NBA and showed satisfactory results in Momih at the International Challenge Series in Europe. Momota emerged as the Champion in Estonia, Sweden and Austria. Throughout the year 0f 2013, Momota participated in equivalent series of Grand Prix / Gold tournaments and even Superseries premiers. This was the learning grounds for the future champion. He struggled hard to overcome the devils of the competitive world in the international circuit.
In the year 2014, Kento Momota won all his matches to lift the Japanese team’s maiden Thomas Cup victory. Kenichi Tago was the leading Japanese player. At the 2014 Singapore Open, Kento showed the world his prowess to become the first Japanese player to lift the Championships’ title. Simultaneously, he also captured a Superseries in Men’s Singles. At 20, he became the youngest Superseries Champion in the category. He still holds the record. Kento Momota represented Japan at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.
Playing for the Japanese National Team, Kento Momota won all his matches and helped his nation to finish second in 2015 Sudirman Cup. In Jakarta at the BWF World Championships, Momota became the first Japanese player to win a medal in the Men’s Singles category. In spite of his loss to Chen Long in the semifinals, Momota created history for Japan.
Kento Momota went onto win the 2015 edition of BWF World Superseries Final in Dubai. At the 2016 Badminton Asian Team Championships, Momota represented Japan in Hyderabad, India. The year 2016 was a bad year for the Japanese player. The gambling scandal surrounding Japanese players in illegal casino in Tokyo was highlighted in media. Kenichi Tago and Kento Momota frequently visited illegal casino and gambled millions of yen during various visits. At the Nippon Badminton Association hearing, Momota confessed of visiting illegal casino and gambling. The NBA suspended him for almost a year. He missed the 2016 Rio Olympics for his unwanted passion.
A lesson well-learnt, Kento Momota bounced back after his suspension. He returned on the circuit sometime in the mid of 2017. He concentrated on his practice. In April 2018, Momota entered the 2018 Badminton Asian Championships in Wuhan, China. He triumphed over Chen Long in straight games 21-17, 21-13 to lift the Championships’ title. He was back with a vengeance for having missed the 2016 Rio Olympics.
At the 2018 World Championships in Nanjing, China, Kento Momota defeated Chinese Shi Yuqi 21-11, 21-13 to become the World Champion. His explosive style, speed on court and his agility has surprised his opponents. Momota is very difficult to understand, because of his unpredictable approach to various competitors.
In the year 2019, Kento Momota was the runner-up at the 2019 Indonesian Masters. Denmark’s Anders Antonsen defeated Momota 16–21, 21–14, 16–21. At the 2019 German Open, he defeated his compatriot Kenta Nishimoto 21-10, 21-16 to left the Championships’ title. In his career, Kento Momota has played 341 Singles’ matches in total. He has won 267 and has registered 74 losses so far.