Estimated read time: 5 minutes
Kento Momota. Now a household name in world badminton.
Momota was born on the 1st of September, 1994 in Mino, Kagawa, Japan. He made a swift rise into the competitive scene - winning both the Asian Junior Championships and World Junior Championships in 2012.
By 2015, he became the first Japanese player to win a medal in a Men's Singles category at the BWF World Championships in Jakarta.
It appeared that everything was going smoothly for Momota and that nothing would stop him from being the best. By 2016, he had already won four Superseries titles and we were certain that he would win more.
At a career high of number 2 in the world, he was caught visiting an illegal casino in Tokyo with Kenichi Tago. Not only did he lose half-a-million yen during his visits to the casino, he was suspended for one year and lost the opportunity to play in the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, where he was in medal-contention.
Fast forward to 2018 - Momota, the current World Champion, has now become the first Japanese man to top the world rankings not long after his ban was lifted in May of 2017.
What do you think would have happened if he didn't get banned? Do you think he would have been even better than he is today?
Or was it something that had to happen to realise his true potential?
Whilst some may believe that Momota would have continued in his rise to the top and that the ban stunted his development as a player, I think the opposite.
I think that the ban is what made him.
When Momota arrived back on the international scene last year, he came back as a man on a mission. He was in much better physical shape. He was leaner, faster and his defence had improved drastically.
His game matured significantly - he was no longer a young player in a young body, but a matured player in a young body. His default playing speed has increased and he has learned to wait for his opportunities, such that when he does inject speed and attack, it's often deadly.
Here is Momota in 2016 against Viktor Axelsen:
Here is him again in 2018 against Viktor Axelsen
Whilst the scoreline might be similar in both matches, the Momota you see on court is vastly different.
Perhaps, the time he had to reflect allowed him to develop into the champion he is today?
Why is he the best today?
Let's get a bit more technical for a moment and discuss why we think Momota is the best. He has several qualities that differentiate himself from other professional badminton players.
If we look at it from a simplistic view, he is:
Do you think that he's the best player in the world today? If not, who do you think is?
We'd love to hear your comments and opinions if you agree with us or not! Please let us know by commenting below. And if you would like us to write about something in particular, please let us know!
Image source: The Japan Times