World Juniors: Miyazaki’s Magic Lights Up Finals Day

World Juniors: Miyazaki’s Magic Lights Up Finals Day

A frail-looking 16-year-old with a magic wrist retained the women’s singles title for Japan at the BWF World Junior Championships 2022.

Tomoka Miyazaki might have evoked some sympathy when she walked on to court for her final against China’s Yuan An Qi, for she looked very much a schoolgirl in a world of bigger and better-built athletes. Yet, well into the match, it was apparent that she carried some rare weapons, for her deception often sent her opponent the wrong way, while her sharp attacking shots cut through Yuan An Qi’s defences.

Tomoka Miyazaki

Yuan proved a doughty opponent, as she saved two match points in the second game to take the contest to a decider. Miyazaki was unruffled, and continued to find the winners through improbable angles. The title was hers at 21-14 20-22 21-17, helping her follow in the footsteps of her compatriots Nozomi Okuhara (2012), Akane Yamaguchi (2013, 2014) and Riko Gunji (2019).

“I’m in first grade of high school, I’m very young, so I felt I was the challenger,” said Miyazaki. “So I didn’t worry about the result of the game. Winning the final will be an unforgettable memory.

“I followed Riko Gunji’s win in 2019 and she inspired me, although I was very young at that time. I’m very happy that I was able to achieve this.”

Kuo Delivers for Chinese Taipei

Kuo Kuan Lin

Kuo Kuan Lin put the finishing touches on a stellar campaign with the men’s singles title, the third overall for Chinese Taipei after Cheng Shao Chieh (2004) and Lu Chia Hung (2015).

Kuo, who’d led Chinese Taipei to the Mixed Team final last week, won the 12th of his 13 matches in two weeks, beating India’s Sankar Muthusamy Subramanian after a nervy ending in which he saw six match points slip by.

Subramanian, who was hoping to draw his opponent into the long rallies at which he excels, was unable to settle into his game for any length of time against his hard-hitting opponent.

“I couldn’t find a good patch in both games,” said Subramanian. “I wasn’t able to get my proper length; my whole game didn’t fall into place. He played better. My game wasn’t solid today.”

“Winning this title makes me feel like all the hard work has been worth it,” said the champion. “When he came back from 14-20 to 20-all I felt under pressure, but I tried to keep my cool and take it a point a time. I’m delighted to win the title.”