Kento Momota spoke to the media at a press conference in Tokyo today. This is the first time the world champion has publicly addressed the press after the tragic road accident in January.
While most of the scars from the accident were unnoticeable, a swell below the right eye from his surgery earlier this month was distinctly visible.
Before taking questions from the media, he offered his condolences to the driver who passed away in the accident.
“First, let us pray for the driver. When I returned to Japan, many fans showed me their support, so I would like to express my gratitude to everyone here.”
Momota was first asked about what he could recall from the accident.
“It was 4.30 am when we departed from the hotel. I was so sleepy that I just fell asleep in the car. So I had no idea what happened when the accident took place. I only knew that I was injured, I couldn’t move my body. A lot of people helped me get out of the van and took me to a quieter place (roadside).”
When asked about the problems with his vision due to the orbital fracture, Momota replied,
“After the accident, I found out that sometimes I had double vision (ghosting), but after some time, I could see the objects clearly, so I thought it was fine. But I didn’t expect to see double visions during training, so I went for examination.”
One of the reporters asked the world no. 1 about his progress in rehabilitation.
“After recovering from the surgery, I received another examination and acquired the approval of the physician. Although I can’t return to full training immediately, I can at least move my body normally.
“Though the injuries weren’t too severe, I have experienced some difficulty during rehabilitation training. Many people wished that they want to watch me return to court. When I felt upset during rehabilitation, I reminded myself of everyone’s wish, encouraging myself to keep holding on.”
When asked if he will be able to participate in the Olympics, Kento Momota replied, “First, we need to solve the problems one by one, I will try my best to solve it. Tokyo Olympics has always been on my schedule. Every party has given me great support and encouragement, and my target is definitely the Olympics gold medal.”
Momota thanked all his well-wishers and fans by saying, “I read many articles, but I never got the chance to accept any interview, mainly because my condition was not recovered yet. But my conditions are stable now, so I took the opportunity to hold this press conference, I hope that everyone can spread my gratitude.”
Momota admitted that there were times when he felt doubts about returning to his peak performance.
“To be honest, I was indeed worried about that before. But as time flew by, I was able to recover from it. I also felt confused on whether to choose surgery or conservative treatment. Just thinking about it made me feel exhausted. But everyone’s support helped me overcome this problem. I hope that I can recover from the injuries and return to match as soon as possible.
“I would like to return to the court immediately once I’m able to play again. Of course, this can’t be forced as it is impossible if I did not perform rehabilitation training well. So I will need to discuss with doctors and coaches, just taking my time. I need to return to the past condition, or even stronger, but I can’t be too anxious about it.”
Momota also expressed his undying love for badminton in the press interview.
“My love for the badminton hasn’t faded a little, and I will keep striving and work hard as before.
“I want to keep living, and I want to play badminton. I only hope that I can become the one that brings positive energy to the badminton world.”
Momota said he took the whole incident as a trial which will only make him stronger.
“Yes, after I returned to training, I felt my heart was filled with the energy to keep moving forward, this experience will make me stronger and become a part of me.”
When asked about the details of his current training, Momota answered, “Mainly eye training and activities. How to track the ball, sometimes maybe hit the ball. All of these are the training that can help me to recover completely.
“Currently I’m not in the condition to play matches, that is still a long way to go. That can’t be forced, and I must handle it patiently. The club and national team gave me the strongest support ever, and I must express my gratitude for this. I hope that I can return to the court as soon as possible to repay everyone’s kindness.”
Momota also revealed that he is still keeping an eye on the performance of his opponents.
“Yes, I do pay attention, I’m concerned about their performance, what tournaments that they played. They are my competitors, and I must respect them.
“If I face them in matches, I must be clear on how I should play. I will watch more tournaments as much as possible. Of course, I can’t be anxious.”
When he was asked if he would be able to return in May for the Thomas Cup, Momota said there was no tentative date for his return yet.
Kento Momota ended the press conference by saying,
“I think this was a good learning experience. I have learned a lot and feel more responsible as well. I must accept everything, become a player that can bring change, and become stronger; then I will return to the court.”
The full video of the press conference can be found below: