Riko is following in the footsteps of Japanese singles stars
Japan looks set to be in contention for the top prizes in world badminton for women’s singles for many more years. And the player to carry the nation’s flag in the highly competitive category in the future is young Riko Gunji.
Riko has proven to be a rising star and is ready to follow in the footsteps of her illustrious compatriots Nozomi Okuhara and Akane Yamaguchi who have been dominant in women’s singles and won numerous titles over the years.
Riko, who turns 18 on July 31st this year, has all the hallmarks of achieving the same success, if not better, then her predecessors.
Her journey took flight when she became the third Japanese player, after Nozomi and Akane, to win the BWF World Junior Championships title. She added her name to the list of winners in Kazan, Russia last year when she defeated China’s Zhou Meng in the final.
For the record, Nozomi bagged the crown in 2012 while Akane followed up with back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014. Nozomi would go on to sensationally claim the BWF World Championships in 2017.
Born in the renowned city of Kanagawa, Riko turned in a solid performance in her debut at the Singapore Youth International Series 2016 where she lost in the final. She however, made up for the loss by combining with Akari Nakashizu and walking away with the U15 title.
A year later, at the same tournament, Riko would emerge victorious in the U17 singles category. Her success would continue in various junior events, where she would make the finals of the Dutch Junior International 2019 and the India Junior International 2019.
She started this year on a high note when she helped her country wrest the women’s team gold medal at the Badminton Asia Team Championships in Manila. Riko is proving to be one of Asia’s brightest rising stars and is well on the road to world badminton glory.
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