16-year-old Okuhara becomes youngest national badminton champion

Kyodo

Nozomi Okuhara became the youngest champion ever at the national badminton championships Sunday at 16 years, 8 months, when five-time winner Eriko Hirose withdrew about 10 minutes before the women’s singles final due to acute gastroenteritis.

Okuhara also became the first high school player to win the event since 18-year-old Aiko Miyamura achieved the feat in 1989.

“This hasn’t sunk in yet because I didn’t play today, but I’m happy,” said Okuhara, who goes to Omiya Higashi High School in Saitama Prefecture.

“I wanted to play the final. Next year will be tough for me after I won here. I’ll try to enjoy the game of badminton without succumbing to pressure.”

In other action at Yoyogi national gymnasium annex, Kenichi Tago won the men’s singles for the fourth consecutive year, defeating Sho Sasaki in the final 21-11, 21-17.

Popular mixed doubles pair Shintaro Ikeda and Reiko Shiota beat Ryota Taohata and Sayuri Asahara 21-15, 21-13 for their first national title together