It’s not the first time that he has rebounded in the face of adversity. The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake in 2011, which laid waste to Fukushima, also hit him close to home. Yet, he bounced back to become world and Asian junior champion the following year.
According to Japanese media reports, this is not the first time the 25-year-old, who was involved in a fatal road accident while on his way to the airport last Monday, had a close shave with death.
When the tsunami hit on March 11, causing a nuclear disaster that claimed tens of thousands lives, the Tomioka Daiichi Middle School in Fukushima prefecture was in the middle of the worst affected areas.
Momota, who was a student there, had left for Indonesia to play in a junior competition just a day earlier on March 10.
Many friends and neighbours were affected but the then 16-year-old Momota did not let it get to him.
He emerged as world and Asian junior champion in 2012 – becoming the first Japanese to accomplish the feat.
His country expects him to rebound again and Momota’s arrival at the Narita airport in Tokyo on Wednesday was given extensive coverage by the media in Japan.
Nearly 150 journalists were waiting for his return and the overwhelming presence of media was not a surprise as Momota is touted as the nation’s best bet for gold in badminton at the home Games in Tokyo.
Momota was greeted by officials of Japan Badminton Association and his club Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) East.
The world champion, who did not speak to the media before his departure from KLIA, ren=mained mum when he landed in Narita. However, he took a bow as a sign of respect and thanked the journalists before leaving the airport.
He then boarded an escorted NTT East official car to a nearby hospital where he underwent another complete medical check-up, including an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan.
Momota is being targeted by the Japan BA to make a competitive comeback at the All-England from March 11-15.
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