Kento Momota faces two months out after car crash in Malaysia

The World No. 1 suffered cuts and bruising in a car accident near Kuala Lumpur just hours after he won the Malaysia Masters on Sunday.

Kento Momota has been in hospital since Monday.   -  Getty Images

Badminton World No. 1 Kento Momota could be out for two months after being injured in a car crash that killed his driver just hours after he won the Malaysia Masters on Sunday.

The 25-year-old Japanese suffered cuts and bruising in the accident near Kuala Lumpur but is aiming to return at the All England Championships on March 11, said Kinji Zeniya, secretary general of Japan’s Badminton Association, on Tuesday.

Zeniya told reporters that Momota, who won a record 11 titles last year, had “extraordinary enthusiasm towards the Olympics” this year in Tokyo but urged Japan’s home gold medal hope to take time to recuperate fully. “I hope he will do his best without pushing and rushing himself too hard and without being impatient,” said Zeniya.

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Momota has been in hospital since Monday following the crash with a slow-moving lorry as his party was driving to the airport. The driver was killed at the scene while Momota received cuts to his face and bruising all over his body, Zeniya said, denying previous reports that he had broken his nose and chin.

In this image from a video, a damaged van is lifted onto a recovery truck in Kuala Lumpur on Monday. Momota was among four injured in a highway crash that killed their van driver. Photo: AP

 

An assistant coach, physiotherapist, and badminton official were also injured.

Momota will return to Japan on Wednesday, Zeniya said, and would receive further medical checks. “Cuts will be healed, but what will happen to the bruising later? I know injuries from car accidents can emerge after some time,” Zeniya said.

The accident came after the dominant Japanese star began his 2020 season in style on Sunday with victory over Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen in Kuala Lumpur. Momota enjoyed unrivalled success in 2019, winning a record 11 titles including the World Championships, Asia Championships and All England Championships, a dramatic turnaround for a player who had been banned for gambling in 2016.