The Japan Thomas Cup team members cheer on during the final against Malaysia on Sunday in New Delhi. The Japanese won 3-2.
NEW DELHI: Japan’s success in the Thomas and Uber Cups is good for badminton.
Japan ended giants China’s decade-long Thomas Cup reign with a 3-0 victory in the semi-final last Friday. And on Sunday, Japan completed their fairy-tale run by edging Malaysia 3-2 in the final. It was Japan’s first title in the world’s team competition.
In the Uber Cup, Japan also reached the final for the first time in 33 years but lost 1-3 to China.
The Japanese were a force in women’s badminton, having won the Uber Cup five times from 1966 to 1981. They then dropped off the radar and only returned to the limelight a few years ago.
In 2005, the Japan BA employed South Korean Park Joo-bong, a former Olympic and world doubles champion, and it proved to be a good investment. In 2012, he guided Mizuki Fujii-Reika Kakiiwa to take the silver at the London Olympics.
“In 2012, Japan won their first Olympic medal. Now, we are the Thomas Cup champions for the first time.
“Badminton is not a big sport in Japan. It is by winning big tournaments that we get noticed back home.
“We have a promising bunch of players. I believe the future is good for Japan,” said Joo-bong.
“I hope the Japanese Olympic Committee will give us a better budget after this triumph,” added Joo-bong, a former coach of Malaysia and England.
Joo-bong said it never crossed his mind to see Japan join China, Indonesia and Malaysia as Thomas Cup winners.
“I never thought for once about it (winning the title). All I was interested was seeing the players put up a better show and close the gap on the top players from the other countries. They certainly proved me wrong.
“Now, we will try to win the bigger events like the World Championships and Olympics,” added Joo-bong.