PETALING JAYA: From surviving a near-death road accident to emerging as Japan’s national champion within a year, Kento Momota is indeed badminton’s great comeback king.
And it’s for this heroic return to sport that Momota has been nominated for the prestigious Laureus’ world comeback of the year award. He is the first badminton player to be considered for the Laureus award.
He will be challenged by four Americans – Alex Morgan (football), Alex Smith (American football), Daniel Baird (baseball), Mikaela Shiffrin (skiing) – and a Canadian, Max Parrot (snowboarding).
World No. 1 Momota was involved in a car accident on his way to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, a day after winning the Malaysian Masters title in January last year.
While the driver died on the spot, Momota was rushed to the hospital with multiple laceration wounds on his face and nasal bone fracture. When he returned to Japan, he had to undergo surgery for an orbital floor fracture in his right eye.
With the trauma from the accident and eye issue, one would have thought that his career was over but the two-time world champion Momota, who won an impressive 11 titles in 2019, signalled his comeback by winning the All-Japan National Championships in December.