Badminton star Momota sparks online frenzy with coaching offer

Kento Momota says he has fully recovered from the injuries he sustained in the crash in Malaysia. (AFP pic)

TOKYO: It’s an irresistible prospect for budding badminton players — a chance to be coached by Japanese world No 1 Kento Momota, who has triggered thousands of responses by offering his services.

“Would anyone like to play badminton with me?” Momota wrote on his Twitter account on Tuesday.

“I also want to teach people badminton. I want people to know how fun this is,” added the badminton star, who was injured in a car crash in February in Malaysia.

Momota, a top gold medal hope for Japan at the now-postponed Tokyo Olympics, spent months recuperating after the crash, which killed the driver of his vehicle and left him with eye injuries.

His coaching offer — for just two lucky students — attracted a flood of applicants, ranging from parents applying for their children to fellow sports stars.

Olympic swimmer Daiya Seto, who won a bronze in the Rio Games for individual medley, tweeted: “Wanna do this!”

But Momota replied: “I don’t want you because you might be too good at it!”

Former Japan international footballer Hiroshi Kiyotake also put up his hand, prompting Momota to offer a trade: “Let’s do this in private. Teach me how to juggle a football.”

And even Momota’s national badminton teammate Kanta Tsuneyama weighed in asking for a shot.

Details are not yet decided, but Momota said he would wait until September before deciding which students to take.

The badminton star said in June he had fully recovered from the injuries he sustained in the crash, and was back on track for the Olympics.

Tokyo 2020 had been scheduled to open in July, but was postponed for a year over the coronavirus and is not set to begin on July 23, 2021.