Momota injured in crash

Sports | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 14 Jan 2020

The world's top-ranked badminton player, Kento Momota, was injured and his driver was killed in a crash near Kuala Lumpur yesterday just hours after he won the Malaysia Masters.

Police said the Japanese star, 25, suffered a broken nose and cuts to his face when the van carrying him to the city's airport crashed early in the morning, in a blow to his preparations for this year's Tokyo Olympics.

The driver was killed at the scene after the vehicle collided with a slow-moving lorry on a highway.

An assistant coach, physiotherapist and badminton official also suffered minor injuries.

The accident came after Momota began his 2020 season in style with victory over Denmark's Viktor Axelsen in the final in Kuala Lumpur.

"It's truly tragic, especially involving a badminton icon like Momota," Malaysian sports minister Syed Saddiq said after visiting the injured in hospital. But he added those hurt were "recovering well, and all four are also in stable condition".

Momota's companions suffered facial, leg, hand and head injuries, according to the police. The Badminton Association of Malaysia said they were "saddened" by the crash.

Momota enjoyed a stellar 2019, winning a record 11 titles including the world championships, Asia championships and All England Open, a turnaround for a player who had been banned for gambling in 2016.

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