It was a “hell of a trip”, in Lino Munoz’s words. It had taken the Mexican team two days just to get on their flight after problems with visa and a cancelled flight. They were supposed to arrive in Tokyo on Saturday; instead, they landed on Monday morning, with Munoz getting only a few hours’ breather before taking on Kento Momota in the first round of the TotalEnergies BWF World Championships 2022.
“So tired… but I had to come and I didn’t want to lose this opportunity to play against one of the best players in the world,” said Munoz. The world No.82 gave a good account of himself against the second seed, falling 21-16 21-16 in 37 minutes.
“I’m so happy I managed to come and a little bit… not disappointed… but I thought I could give a little bit more.”
What motivated him to come all the way despite knowing the odds were heavily against him in a match against Momota?
“Well, it’s just the passion for the game, you know, coming from a country where badminton is not popular at all, and where you have to go out in order to become better. Because at home, you don’t have the conditions such as coaches or sparring or tournaments. The problem with America is that the countries are so big, it takes a lot of money and time to go to one tournament, whereas when you’re in Europe, for example, you can play three tournaments in three weeks and it’s cheaper.
“It’s just the love of the game. Badminton is definitely the motivation of my life. I wake up every day and I know I have to go to practice and stuff and that’s what keeps me going.”