Momota, Marin capture world titles

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Kento Momota dedicated his world title yesterday to those who stuck by him when a gambling scandal threatened to wreck the history-maker's budding career.
Shine
AFP

Winner Kento Momota (right) of Japan and runner-up Shi Yuqi of China pose on the podium after the men’s singles final at the world championships in Nanjing, east China’s Jiangsu Province, yesterday.

Kento Momota dedicated his world title yesterday to those who stuck by him when a gambling scandal threatened to wreck the history-maker’s budding career.

The explosive 23-year-old convincingly defeated China’s highly promising Shi Yuqi 21-11, 21-13 in Nanjing, becoming the first Japanese man to win the world championships.

Carolina Marin claimed her own slice of history as the Spaniard became the first woman to win three badminton world crowns with an emphatic victory over PV Sindhu of India.

Momota’s career descended into controversy in 2016 when Japanese badminton chiefs suspended him for more than a year for visiting an illegal casino, denying him a place at the Rio Olympics.

Momota, No. 2 in the world at the time, has been working his way back to the top ever since and was the favorite in Nanjing.

After dismissing Shi, Momota was coy about his temporary absence from the sport, but said after a pause: “There was a time when I was away.

“But I got a lot of help and support from many people, this title is a good reward for them.”

Momota, now seventh in the rankings, said he wanted to emulate greats Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan, two super stars who have reigned over badminton for well over a decade.

Malaysian Lee missed the tournament because of illness and Lin was well beaten by Shi in the third round.

Shi, who was playing in front of a home crowd, appeared nervous, making numerous errors.

The third seed, 22, defeated compatriots Lin and Olympic champion Chen Long on the way to the final to confirm a changing of the guard in Chinese men’s badminton.

There were tears of joy from the 25-year-old Marin after her victory over third-seeded Sindhu in the women’s final.

The aggressive Marin is now the reigning world and Olympic champion thanks to a ruthless 21-19, 21-10 win.

The Spaniard adds the 2018 world crown to her titles in 2014 and 2015, and the Olympic gold she won at Sindhu’s expense at Rio 2016. “I feel really happy, I cannot describe my emotions now, I have so many inside,” said Marin, the seventh seed.

Japan’s Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara won their first women’s doubles world title, beating second-seeded compatriots Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota 19-21, 21-19, 22-20.

In men’s doubles, China’s Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen beat Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda of Japan 21-12, 21-19 for their first world title.

Top-seeded Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong edged past Wang Yilu and Huang Dongping 21-17, 21-19 in an all-China mixed doubles final.


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