When Loh Kean Yew stepped onto the badminton court at the Singapore Indoor Stadium yesterday evening, the boisterous crowd broke into thunderous cheers, clapping and chanting "Sin-ga-pu-ra! Sin-ga-pu-ra!"
However, despite the vociferous home support, the teenager stretched but could not break Malaysian Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif, who won their men's singles semi-final 22-20, 21-15.
Kean Yew, 17, had matched the 25-year-old Arif almost point for point in the first game, taking the Malaysian world No. 67 to 20-20 before eventually losing his patience to go down by two points.
In the second, the Republic Polytechnic student, ranked 72 places below his opponent, even led 10-5 before Arif upped his game to win and book a berth in the final against countryman Chong Wei Feng.
Kean Yew, who captured a bronze medal as a losing semi-finalist, said: "He was more experienced. He broke my momentum when I kept taking points by changing the shuttle, wiping his sweat, saying he was injured.
"I tried to tell myself to continue to focus and not rush, but I guess I was not professional enough. It was a really wasted (opportunity). I was leading at first, but couldn't finish well. I need to learn how to better control my emotions, not to rush, focus on each point instead of wanting to win the match as a whole."
Despite the loss, Malaysia-born Kean Yew, who obtained Singapore citizenship in February, is determined to soldier on in his bid to become a professional.
He is training full time and has already set his sights on doing well at the Asian Junior and World Junior Championships, and in the long run bagging an Olympic gold.
Chew Keet Hou, the Singapore Badminton Association's director of team administration, was full of praise for the youngster, adding: "He definitely has the potential to go further, especially since he is committed to playing badminton full time."
Singapore's other bronze on the day was earned by Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Chayut Triyachart, who lost 12-21, 18-21 to Ricky Karandasuwardi and Pratama Angga in the men's doubles semi-finals. The Indonesians will face compatriots Gideon Fernaldi and Kevin Sukamuljo in the final today.
Together with the joint-third placings from the men's and women's team, Singapore totalled four bronzes, exceeding their 2013 performance of one bronze.
This article was first published on June 16, 2015.
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