"It’ll be half nerves and half excitement. There’s a part of me that’s worried even as I practice now, but I want to play to win since I’m going." - Momota Kento
2020 has been a difficult year for many, including Momota Kento. Before Covid-19 hit the world, he was hit by an accident in Malaysia on Monday (Jan 13) morning when he was en route to Kuala Lumpur International Airport after he captured the Malaysia Masters title, beating Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen. However, his quest to conquer the Tokyo Olympic 2021 does not stop here.
He was involved in the accident at what was scheduled to be the start of an Olympic year. He said the first thought that went through his mind at that time is, he was not so concerned about the Olympics. Instead, he was more worried about whether he will be able to continue the sport.
Need not to say, there must have been many challenges on his road to recovery, and COVID presented additional challenges. Physical therapy was all blood and tears. When asked what he was thinking about during the physical therapy sessions, his response was, “My main goal is of course to recover. My biggest goal for the year was the Olympics, so I was adjusting my goal toward that goal, to be able to return to my pre-accident performance. But it was really challenging, frustrating, and difficult for me to not do anything for two months, and to deal with the effects of the accident during physical therapy. It was also really tough mentally.”
Expectations from other people could be stressful., especially people were expecting Kento to grab the gold at Tokyo 2021. When asked how he was coping with the mental pressure, he said people mention the Olympics and the gold medal as the Olympics approach, so to be honest, the pressure was huge. People would not make such comments at all if they were not believing in him. So he would like to turn that into a positive and go into the Olympics with a productive degree of pressure and tension.
One question that everyone wants to know is, how confident he is about winning that gold medal, conquering the Tokyo Olympic 2021?
His reply was short and simple. ”I definitely want to win if I’m going to be playing. Well, I don’t think you can become a champion if you’re hesitant, so allow me to say I’m 100% confident about the gold medal!”
Despite the pressure piling on him, he could turn it into motivation to strive for his best. This is truly a huge step forward for him. In fact, he admitted that he was his own biggest rival. It is all about mindset.
"I didn’t watch any of the 2016 Olympics because I felt too regretful. It was a tough time, but thanks to people who supported me I was able to get through it." - Kento Momota talking to Tokyo Weekender
His game looks bulletproof at present but he insists he does have things to work on.
He told Tokyo Weekender, "My weakness is that I sometimes play too carefully. Recently, opponents have analysed my game and figured out how to play against me. I feel more effort is needed to combat this." He then added, "I can only become stronger by overcoming my own weaknesses. I need to work harder so I can give back to those people who’ve supported me.
Given his superiority in recent times, it probably isn't surprising that Momota says his biggest rival is "Myself".
The way Kento Momota defeats his opponents creates many buzzes around the world of badminton enthusiasts. Someone talks about the speed of Momota, someone makes an accent on the brilliance of his technique, others emphasize the perfection of his defense. But in fact, he plays a simple game using “follow the line” principle, choosing the most optimal trajectory for the shuttle, wearing out opponents by following simple rules.
Be ready, wait carefully for your opponent to take a shot, and play as fast as possible choosing the shortest/optimal trajectory along the line.
Wait for your chance to score and do it right away only when the chance appears.
Follow your tactics, especially when the deciding moment of the game comes.
Most of the time Kento Momota beats his rivals thanks to a simple linear game and a ‘’tactical discipline’’. Instead, his opponents very often play a difficult game, which contains a lot of diagonal shots.