Fukushima Yuki and Hirota Sayaka: Mission gold at Tokyo 2020

The Japanese women's doubles pair are well aware of the task ahead of them if they want to win badminton gold at their home Olympics

By Sanjeev Palar

Fukushima Yuki and Hirota Sayaka have had enough of playing second fiddle.

For the past three years, the Japanese women's double pair have finished runners-up at the Badminton World Federation World Championships.

While some players might be content with three silver medals, the 2018 Asian Champions shared with Olympic Channel that they have their eye on the top prize, when they make their Olympic debut in Tokyo next year.

"Every tournament matters from here and we can't afford any slip-ups. We expect a Japanese matchup somewhere and we need to make sure to win those" - Hirota Sayaka to Olympic Channel.

27-year-old Fukushima and 26-year-old Hirota are well aware that their biggest obstacle to Olympic gold is from within, in the form of reigning world champions, Matsumoto Mayu and Nagahara Wakana.

The latter have had the upper hand in recent meetings, winning six of seven most recent encounters, which includes the last two World Championship finals.

All four players are on course to make their Olympic debut on home soil, and Fukushima as well as Hirota know that their compatriots could be their biggest stumbling block to clinching the title.

"To win a gold medal we have to get past them somehow." - Fukushima Yuki

Japan's Matsutomo Misaki and recently retired Takahashi Ayaka won gold the country's first badminton gold medal at Rio 2016 and the host nation certainly has the talent to defend the title when the Games comes around.

The bigger question is, which Japanese pair will have the honour of shining on home soil?