Shanghai (AFP) – Japan’s Kento Momota shocked Olympic gold-medallist Chen Long to be crowned Asian badminton champion on Sunday, a year after his return from a gambling ban.
Momota, who was barred ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics and returned to action last year, floored the Chinese favourite 21-17, 21-13 at the Badminton Asia Championships in Wuhan.
The 17th-ranked left-hander had never previously won a game against Chen but he dominated the final, reeling off seven straight points to clinch victory when the world number three netted.
Momota clenched his fists in triumph and kissed the Japan badge on his singlet after the win, which caps his recovery from a troubled period.
The 23-year-old was banned by Japanese authorities in 2016 after being caught gambling at an illegal casino, and spent a year on the sidelines until last May.
His breakthrough comes after four previous defeats to Chen, a two-time world champion, and follows his straight-sets dismissal of Malaysian great Lee Chong Wei in the semi-finals.
There was further disappointment for China when Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying, the world number two, beat Chen Yufei 21-19, 22-20 to win the women’s title.
But China’s Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping beat Indonesian top seeds Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir 21-17, 21-17 in the mixed doubles final.
And Chinese pair Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen also gave the home fans something to cheer when they won the men’s doubles 11-21, 21-10, 21-13 against Japan’s Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda.
In the women’s doubles, Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota won an all-Japanese final 21-18, 18-21, 21-15 against Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi.