Please view the main text area of the page by skipping the main menu.

Olympics: Japan's Momota, Okuhara open with wins in badminton singles

Kento Momota of Japan competes against USA's Timothy Lam during men's singles Badminton match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, July 25, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Japan's Nozomi Okuhara competes against Germany's Yvonne Li during their women's singles badminton matchat the 2020 Summer Olympics, July 25, 2021, in Tokyo(AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

TOKYO(Kyodo) -- Japan's Kento Momota marked his Olympic debut on Sunday with a convincing 2-0 win over American Timothy Lam in the men's badminton singles.

    Nozomi Okuhara, who earned bronze at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, also got off to a winning start in the women's singles, overcoming early struggles to defeat Germany's Yvonne Li 2-0.

    Momota, ranked world No. 1 and the top seed here, dominated the match from the beginning and cruised past the 88th-ranked American 21-12, 21-9 in just over 30 minutes at Tokyo's Musashino Forest Sport Plaza.

    "I'm really happy to be here after five years. I was able to prepare well so I had a lot of confidence today," Momota said. "I was very nervous at first, but when I came to the venue, I was psyched up some, but most of all I was thrilled. And because of that I was able to compete with all my strength."

    The 26-year-old, who was part of the group that carried the Olympic flag into the National Stadium during Friday's opening ceremony, is competing in his first games. He missed the Rio de Janeiro Olympics due to a suspension for illegal gambling at a casino.

    Okuhara, the third seed, was unable to seize control of the match early on, allowing Li to take a comfortable 9-3 lead in the first game. But she recovered to hit her stride and claim a 21-17, 21-4 win.

    "There is a part of me that is just relieved that I won, but I also realize I'll get nowhere if I keep playing like this," Okuhara said.

    "I was overwhelmed with different feelings during the match, like the joy of being able to stand on the Olympic court, happiness, fear and feeling challenged," she added.

    Among other Japanese players, Kanta Tsuneyama defeated Georges Julien Paul of Mauritius in straight games in the men's singles, while the men's doubles pair of Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe beat Russians Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov 2-0.

    In women's doubles, the top-seeded pair of Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota claimed a hard-fought 2-1 win over Malaysia's Mei Kuan Chow and Meng Yean Lee. Fellow Japanese Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara also came from behind to beat Canada's Rachel Honderich and Kristen Tsai 2-1.

    Also in The Mainichi

    The Mainichi on social media