Momota Kento's survival of car crash a 'miracle', Japan badminton says

Tokyo 2020 gold-medal favorite in men's badminton singles to head home Wednesday after highway accident in Kuala Lumpur, targets All England in March as return to competition

World No. 1 men's singles shuttler Momota Kento will return to Japan on Wednesday (15 January) after surviving a car crash that nearly cost him his life in Kuala Lumpur two days earlier, the Nippon Badminton Association said.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday, NBA Secretary General Zeniya Kinji said doctors at Putrajaya Hospital in Malaysia cleared Momota, who suffered multiple facial lacerations and bodily bruising in the wreck, to head home.

Zeniya said Momota, the prohibitive favourite to win gold in the men’s singles at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, was lucky to come out alive from the accident that killed the driver on the Maju Expressway.

"It's an absolute miracle for him to be in one piece after a crash like that", NBA Secretary General Zeniya Kinji said of Momota.

A night after beating Denmark's Viktor Axelsen to win the Malaysia Masters, Momota was seated in the second row of a van on the way to KL International Airport, directly behind the driver who died at the scene, the NBA said.

Momota was with coach Hirayama Yu and physical trainer Morimoto Akifumi as well as Badminton World Federation technical officer William Thomas as the van crashed into a lorry from behind.

Totaled van that carried Japanese shuttler Momota Kento in Kuala Lumpur (Reuters)
Totaled van that carried Japanese shuttler Momota Kento in Kuala Lumpur (Reuters)Totaled van that carried Japanese shuttler Momota Kento in Kuala Lumpur (Reuters)

While there were conflicting reports initially that Momota broke his nose, the NBA confirmed on Tuesday that Momota does not have a broken bone anywhere.

The 25-year-old Momota is speaking and walking on his own. He will undergo a full medical exam upon returning to Japan.

The NBA said recovery will be priority for Momota but is targeting the 11-15 March All England Badminton Championships in Birmingham as his potential return to competition.

CT scans done on the four survivors at the hospital returned negative, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad was quoted as saying by Malaysian news agency Bernama.

After defeating former world champion Axelsen to capture his first title of the Tokyo Olympic year, Momota had pulled out of the Indonesia Masters that started on Tuesday citing soreness in his lower body.

Two-time reigning world champion Momota won a record 11 titles in 2019 and was named the top men’s player by BWF.

He is being heavily counted on to win Japan its first men’s singles gold at the Olympic Games.

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