(Photo: Badmintonphoto)
Loh Kean Yew: Badminton’s new superstar?
Date: 12/19/2021 5:14 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
Loh Kean Yew has had a special World Championship week in Huelva. The badminton he showed on the way to becoming Singapore’s first champion poses an exciting question to fans. Did we just witness the announcement of the sport’s new superstar? 

There were glimpses of what was to come from Loh in Bali after defeating Kento Momota. This week began with a bang – a dismantling of the Olympic Champion and the man of the moment Viktor Axelsen. After losing the opening game, Loh raised his game to levels that left Axelsen scratching his head – 14-21, 21-9, 21-6. Loh then went on to slice through Wraber, Wangchareon and Prannoy. 

In the semifinal, fans witnessed Antonsen get some traction against Loh, but ultimately it was not enough. Antonsen analysed that he was one of the fastest players he has played with a style he has not seen before, and Antonsen has played Lee Chong Wei! 

The final
Srikanth Kidambi has been able to find some strong form at the right time, building in confidence tournament by tournament. The Indian secured history for his country by being the first Indian in the final. He caused problems for Loh, especially in the second game, but missed chances cost him dearly. 

-I just feel like I had a lot of chances which unfortunately I could not convert. If I played a little smarter, I could have had the second and who knows what could have happened in the third. Those crucial two or three points make a huge difference, said a reflective Srikanth. 

Discussing these key rallies, Loh commented. 

-I did not really think at that point that I was going to win. I just stayed focused on being patient. 

What did we watch? 
Loh found a path to glory and won the match 21-15, 22-20. A huge achievement for Loh and Singapore. Up there with Jonathan Schooling winning an Olympic gold for the first time.

Comparisons have already been made to his idols, Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan, but the way he has been able to win these matches has really sparked excitement in the badminton community. 

Loh has been focused all week and reluctant to get ahead of himself in the post-match interviews. Despite being clearly surprised and ecstatic by his own performances, his words are purposefully grounded. However, after winning the gold he loosened up. 

-Now I can finally tell you that I am really happy. I no longer have to hold back. I am super, super happy and very thankful to all the fans that support me. They all stayed up late watching my match. 

Having avoided social media, Loh was asked how he will handle the attention now. 

-I don’t think I can finish replying to everyone. I always try to, but I can thank them here! 

A much-awaited hug
In sport, fans always wish for something special to come along. Loh from Singapore, a population under six million, may have produced just that for badminton. Catapulted from promising to the top of the world, all eyes will be on him now to see how this story continues. 

But first, a well-deserved rest and a hug from the parents. 

-I haven’t really thought of a plan yet, but I really want to spend some time with my family and friends. If I can go back to my parents, I really want to give them a hug and all my loved ones. 

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