The story of Japanese badminton player Kenichi Tago has been one from”the top to the tatters”. From being a promising young shuttler to getting involved in gambling, missing Olympics prospects he has seen several ups and downs in his career.
Kenichi Tago was born in Saitama Prefecture Japan on July 16,1989. He is the son of former female Japanese badminton player Yoshiko Yonekura.
Kenichi showed promise and determination in his early career. In 2006 he became the first Japanese badminton player to lift the Asian Junior Championship title in boy’s singles at Kuala Lumpur, where he made his international debut. In the following year he won a bronze at the same competition in the mixed doubles. From there on he went to win some more medals at different events which made him a bright prospect in the badminton world. In the men’s category also he won bronzes at the East Asian Games in Hong Kong and at the Asian Games in New Delhi.
On a run of success……
Kenichi saw a run of success from 2010 onwards where he won bronze medals in the Thomas Cup and a Gold in New Delhi in 2014 in the same competition. At this point he rose to a career best rank of no.3 in 2014. During this time he also reached the finals of All England Badminton Championship in 2010 and the finals of the Indonesia Open in 2014 after defeating the then no.1 Lee Chong Wei. He also participated in the London Olympics in 2012 without any success.
In 2016 Kenichi and fellow peer Kento Momota were involved in a gambling scandal prior to the Rio Olympic of 2016 and accordingly ,were banned by the Japan Badminton Association and missed the Games. They were called back by the above cited authority after playing the first round in the Malaysia Open in Kuala Lumpur. In the following day both players appeared in a press conference and apologised for their behaviour. It was reported that Tago lost 10 million Japanese yen(US$ 87,734) in more than 60 visits to illegal casinos in Japan. Momota lost half a million.
Kenichi was banned indefinitely by the authorities, while the ban on Momota was lifted last year and since then he has rose up the pecking order to becoming the no.1 a few weeks ago. Momota even claimed the world title in Nanjing in August.
It has been a story of staying low on the part of Kenichi, unlike his compatriot Momota. He now works as a visiting coach for Malaysia Women’s team as plays badminton for Petaling Badminton Club in the Purple League.
According to reports in Malaysia, Tago, now 29, felt sorry for what he has done before
“I have quit gambling,” he said, according to reports in Malaysia. “I was too young and impulsive those days and just followed my instinct.
“Since I have been banned in Japan, it would have been very difficult for me to even find a job. I am currently enjoying myself here as I still get to play badminton.