• Kyodo


Kento Momota said Friday he once more wants to aim for an Olympic gold medal.

In his first news conference since a car accident on Jan. 13 and Feb. 8 facial surgery to correct double vision, the world’s top-ranked men’s badminton player spoke of his moments of despair and anxiety.

“At times I felt I would fall apart,” the 25-year-old said of his emotions after learning in early February of his facial fracture.

“After my accident I couldn’t move at all, and I was striving to recover my fitness. Then the eye issue occurred and I was grappling with whether to have surgery or not. At the time I thought of giving it all up.”

However, he said family, friends and supporters made a difference and helped him move forward.

“Thanks to the words of encouragement I received, I want to aim to win a gold medal,” he said.

Momota resumed practicing with his club on Feb. 29. Although he said he is thrilled his vision is as good as ever, he remains cautious about pushing too hard, too fast.

“Frankly speaking, I can’t play at all right now,” he said when asked about his golden goal for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. “I can’t look far beyond that first goal of being able to compete in games.

“If I rush and overdo it, I risk injury and being unable to play. I want to have a little more margin for error. I want to come back stronger than ever. I want to work harder than I ever have.”

Four years ago, when he was 21 and the world’s No. 2 ranked player, Momota was on track to compete in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, but in April of that year he received an indefinite suspension for gambling that was lifted after one year.

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