Badminton: Nagahara, Matsumoto set for Tokyo Olympics as Takahashi retires

Elwanda Tulloch

Mayu Matsumoto, left, and Wakana Nagahara of Japan, who won the women’s doubles title at the 2019 world badminton championships in Basel, Switzerland, attend a press conference at Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Aug. 27, 2019, upon their return from the trip. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japanese women’s doubles badminton pair Wakana Nagahara and Mayu Matsumoto all but punched their tickets to the postponed Tokyo Games next summer after Rio de Janeiro Olympic champion Ayaka Takahashi announced her retirement on Wednesday.

Nagahara and Matsumoto, the winners of back-to-back world championships in 2018 and 2019, are set to follow Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota in claiming one of Japan’s two berths. Their world No. 2 ranked compatriots essentially sealed their spot in March when they won the All England Open.

Both pairs are readying to make their first Olympic appearances after Takahashi’s retirement guaranteed they will remain the two highest-ranked Japanese pairs

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Olympic badminton gold medalist Ayaka Takahashi retires due to lack of fire

Elwanda Tulloch

Ayaka Takahashi said Wednesday that she lacks the fire to try and defend her Olympic women’s doubles championship at next summer’s Tokyo Olympics and will retire at the end of this month.

While the vast majority of Olympic hopefuls are continuing on for the Tokyo Games, which have been postponed until 2021, Takahashi, a gold medalist at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, decided that she will not.

“I had doubts about my mind and body getting through another year,” Takahashi said in an online news conference where she was joined by her playing partner Misaki Matsutomo.

“When I shared my honest feelings with my partner Matsutomo and (my employer) Nihon Unisys they respected my decision. My parents were understanding as well, and telling them was a big weight off my shoulders,” she said.

The 30-year-old Takahashi and 28-year-old Matsutomo, with the pair nicknamed “Takamatsu,” claimed Japan’s first Olympic badminton

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Japan’s first Olympic badminton gold winner Takahashi retires – Sports

Elwanda Tulloch

Ayaka Takahashi, who won Japan’s first ever badminton Olympic gold with her doubles partner in Rio 2016, has retired conceding she no longer has the “inner fire” to compete.

Takahashi and Misaki Matsutomo scored a spectacular come-from-behind win at the 2016 Olympics, scoring five straight points when down 19-16 in the final game to defeat Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl.

But she has opted to skip the chance to defend her Olympic title on home soil, citing in part the decision to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Games by a year because of the coronavirus.

“After winning the gold medal in Rio, I’d been struggling to maintain morale,” she confessed at an online press conference this week.

Despite training hard with Matsutomo, she said she had struggled with “records that were not satisfying enough in 2019, the suspension of tournaments, and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics”.

“I doubt

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Badminton great Lin Dan retires after 2 Olympic golds and five World titles

Elwanda Tulloch

Lin Dan, arguably the greatest badminton player of the 21st century, has announced his retirement from the sport. Lin, who won two Olympic golds and five World titles, dominated men’s singles badminton for about a decade along with Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei.

“I’ve dedicated everything to the sport I love,” Lin said in a post on China’s Twitter-like Weibo. “My family, coaches, teammates and fans have accompanied me through many happy times and difficult moments.”

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Lin had been eyeing a third Olympic gold in Tokyo, to accompany the golds he won in 2008 and 2012. “Now I’m 37 years old, and my physical fitness and pain no longer allow me to fight side by side with my teammates,” he said.

Lin was at his best in the big matches and was the kind of player who saved his best for the biggest moments. In an eight year period

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