All England champions Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota recently held a video call with 80 high school students. During the call they shared their badminton knowledge along with stories of how they became partners on court.
Fukushima and Hirota were once opponents in a singles match back in high school. It was a quarterfinal match and Fukushima won it in 2 straight games.
Recollecting the match, Hirota smiled and said, “I was made a fool of, really.” (Quoted from Daily.co.jp)
On the other hand, Fukushima said that Hirota gave her a hard time on the court with a variety of difficult shots. She jokingly said, “I thought she was a nasty person.”
9 years after meeting on court as opponents, Fukushima and Hirota became friends and partners and have won many titles including the prestigious All England title. With a slight disbelief, Hirota said, “I didn’t expect to be partnered with the senior whom I was fighting against.”
Fukushima and Hirota are arguably the strongest women’s doubles contenders from Japan for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. At the end of the call, Hirota’s parting message to the students was, “Even if you find yourself in hardships, you should push forward without hesitation.”