20 things to know about S'porean, Loh Kean Yew, 24, the newest badminton champion

Toast of the town in Singapore.

Zhangxin Zheng | December 20, 2021, 02:54 AM

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Loh Kean Yew, a 24-year-old Singaporean, has made history with his sporting achievement.

The boyish-looking badminton player has become the first-ever Singaporean to win the Badminton World Federation World Championships 2021.

This victory has sealed Singapore's place as the third Southeast Asian country to win the championship, after Indonesia and Thailand.

Here are some other facts about Loh as he has become the toast of the town following his stunning ascension to the top of the badminton world.

How he started out in badminton

1. Loh was born in Penang in 1997.

2. He first played badminton when he was four years old. He played with his brothers and neighbours.

3. He quit playing for two years after being bullied and returned to the sport only when he was nine. Months later, he joined the Penang state team.

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A post shared by Loh Kean Yew OLY (@lohkeanyew)

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Loh Kean Yew OLY (@lohkeanyew)

Moved to Singapore for good when he was 13

He moved to Singapore when he was 13 after receiving a scholarship from Singapore Sports School.

Loh told The Straits Times (ST) in an interview:

"When the time came for me to move here, I was angry because my friends were all in Malaysia. But my mother already bought the ticket to send me here, so what to do?

So slowly, I started to make friends and adapt to life here."

4. Speaking in English and not having friends were his biggest challenges when he first came to Singapore.

Studied at Singapore Sports School

5. He went to the Singapore Sports School.

6. He studied in Republic Polytechnic before dropping out to become a professional player.

7. He was ranked 139 in 2015.

Became a Singapore citizen at 16

8. 2015 was quite a memorable year for Loh. He first played in a major game, representing Singapore in the Southeast Asian Games. He won a bronze medal. He also became a Singapore citizen that year.

9. Loh said it was his dream to play against Lin Dan from China, and the Singaporean went on to beat the Chinese shuttler to claim the Thai Masters title in 2019. Loh ranked 129 back then.

Served National Service

10. He served the National Service (NS) as a transport operator.

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A post shared by Loh Kean Yew OLY (@lohkeanyew)

His brother Kean Hean said Loh would rush to extra night training sessions after booking out so that he will not lose his "feel".

Kean Hean also plays badminton for Singapore.

Here's a cute interview of the duo, sharing trivia about each other and imitating each other.

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A post shared by Loh Kean Yew OLY (@lohkeanyew)

11. Loh said that NS made him a "totally different person". He became more outgoing, more extroverted.

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A post shared by Loh Kean Yew OLY (@lohkeanyew)

Trains 30 hours a week

12. He believes in hard work.

He told ST:

"There are players in the top 10 who don't have much talent but are there because they have discipline, grit and consistency; there are other more talented players who are not there for various reasons. There are too many good players out there regardless of their rankings and I cannot be complacent."

13. But he is pretty candid about how he feels towards training.

"I don't really like training. *laughs*... In order to improve, I have no choice, I need to go through this. I need to like whatever I'm doing so if there's a programme I don't enjoy doing it, I need to find something to enjoy it. To make myself feel better."

14. His biggest motivation is to train hard to improve and become the world's best. Loh trains about 30 hours a week, according to ST.

15. Loh is close to his coach, Kelvin Ho.

Ho said they have gone through a lot together, since Loh was 14 and Ho was 21.

Ho beats his chest vigorously during Loh's games when he needs some morale boost.

16. Loh can speak English, Mandarin, Bahasa Malay and Hokkien.

17. Loh said he grew up watching badminton legends Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei play.

18. Prior to winning the BWF World's Championship, he was ranked 22.

Was injured during tournament

19. He won the championship despite having injured his right ankle, according to ST. He was wheelchair-bound after his match with world's number one, Denmark's Viktor Axelsen.

20. Here's what he said after being crowned 2021 BWF world champion. He told ST:

"I’m honoured to deliver this first gold for Singapore. I know many Singaporeans have been staying up to follow my progress, and I want to thank everyone for their support and for being a huge motivation.

I feel I have improved over the past few months, but I still have a long way to go to be where I want to be, and I will continue to work hard to be even better as I chase my dream of winning an Olympic medal for Singapore."

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Top photos via Loh Kean Yew Instagram