Japanese world badminton number one Kento Momota blamed his own “weakness” as he crashed out of the Tokyo Olympics in the first round on Wednesday.
Unseeded South Korean Heo Kwang-hee beat Momota 21-15, 21-19 to end his gold-medal bid after just two games, a day after Japanese tennis superstar Naomi Osaka also made an early exit.
Momota won a record 11 titles in 2019 to cement his place as the undisputed best badminton player in the world.
But he was almost forced to retire last year after a car crash that left him with career-threatening injuries, and he admitted his killer instinct of old had not yet returned.
“Previously, when a game went like this, I would be able to recover and think clearly,” said a visibly stunned Momota.
“I would have been able to pull through. But I couldn’t recover tonight, and that’s down to my weakness.”
Momota fractured his eye socket in the accident in January last year which killed the driver of the vehicle taking him to the airport after winning the Malaysia Masters.
He suffered double vision and needed surgery on a bone near his eye that delayed his comeback, leaving him fearing his career was over.
He returned to make his Olympic debut in Tokyo — five years after being banned from the 2016 Rio Games for illegal gambling.—APP