Reigning Olympic champions held an online press conference today regarding Takahashi’s retirement. It was announced that Takahashi would be leaving the national team at the end of the month while Matsutomo would continue playing in the mixed doubles discipline.
The reigning Olympic pair had been partners since their middle school days. Takahashi thanked Matsutomo and said she was full of gratitude. “When I talked to Matsutomo about my honest feelings, she respected my wish…I couldn’t have done it without you,” she said in tears.
Takahashi said she had hoped for another gold medal at Tokyo but her doubt kept creeping in. At the All England this year, they defeated Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan in a fierce match that lasted over 1 hour and 20 minutes but lost out in the next round to compatriots Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota. Takahashi said this was a major turning point.
“Can I still target the gold at Olympics?” was a major inkling for Takahashi, reported Nikkan Sports. After the loss at the All England and the suspension of tournaments, she felt overwhelmed and contacted her parents for advice. She said physical limitation was not an issue for her but rather her own anxiety.
She continued that looking back her gold medal at Rio 2016 was so valuable and that she was happy to have lived and experienced it. As for the next chapter in her life, she said she would like to open up a restaurant “at the Japan Open so that customers can enjoy it.”