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Monday, 14th March 2016
In Japan Sports News,

Japanese player becomes badminton All England champion

For the first time in 39 years, a Japanese player has won the All England badminton competition.

Nozomi Okuhara beat all the other contenders for the women’s singles title in the final, which was held in Birmingham yesterday (March 13th).

The 21-year-old won 21-11, 16-21, 21-19 against Wang Shixian from China, making her the first female Japanese champion in the event since Hiroe Yuki in 1977.

Okuhara’s win wasn’t the only good news for Japan in the competition, however, as women’s doubles partners Ayaka Takahashi and Misaki Matsutomo won the women’s doubles just prior to the singles match.

Their 21-10, 21-12 victory was the perfect inspiration for Okuhara, who told the Japan Times: “I felt compelled to follow in their footsteps.”

Unfortunately, the men’s doubles side of Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa couldn’t make it a hat trick for Japan, as they were beaten by Russia’s Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov in the final.

It didn’t look like a sure thing for Okuhara all the way through the match, as she was behind by four points in the third match.

The world’s number eight player came back from this situation, however, and shone when winning all five of the final points of the match.

It lasted an hour and 39 minutes, but was the realisation of a lifelong dream by the badminton star from Nagano Prefecture.

She told the news provider: “I’ve been working hard to win the All-England title. I never gave up, and that’s what allowed me to come back. I was going to keep running until I had nothing left. It gives me a lot of confidence to have won amid the attention.”

Dating back to 1899, the All England Championships are among the oldest and most prestigious tournaments held in badminton.