Badminton: Women’s doubles Rio gold winner Ayaka Takahashi to retire

Elwanda Tulloch

Misaki Matsutomo, right, and Ayaka Takahashi pose with their gold medals for the women’s badminton doubles event at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics on Aug. 18, 2016. (Kyodo)
Ayaka Takahashi, right, and Misaki Matsutomo compete against Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota in an all-Japanese women’s doubles semifinal at the All England Open badminton championships in Birmingham on March 14, 2020. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Badminton star Ayaka Takahashi, a women’s doubles gold medalist at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, is intent on retiring, multiple sources close to her told Kyodo News on Monday.

Takahashi, 30, and her 28-year-old partner Misaki Matsutomo became Japan’s first Olympic gold medalists in badminton when they overcame Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl of Denmark in Brazil, scoring five straight points from 19-16 down in the final game for a dramatic comeback win.

They were facing an uphill battle in the race for the

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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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