SEA games 2015: Kean Yew feels the love

SEA games 2015: Kean Yew feels the love
Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew had won only a SEA Games men's singles Round-of-16 match at the Singapore Indoor Stadium yesterday but, for the 17-year-old, that victory was almost as good as winning the gold medal.

He pumped both fists into the air and roared in jubilation as he collapsed on court in ecstasy.

Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew had won only a SEA Games men's singles Round-of-16 match at the Singapore Indoor Stadium yesterday but, for the 17-year-old, that victory was almost as good as winning the gold medal.

The world No. 139-ranked men's singles player beat Vietnam veteran Nguyen Tien Minh, ranked 28th in the world, 21-16, 15-21, 21-17 in 57 minutes, with the pumped-up Singaporean celebrating each point with aplomb.

Adrenalin was still clearly coursing through the 1.75m-tall shuttler's veins when he met the media after his upset win.

Kean Yew said: "I am super, super happy. I don't think there are enough 'supers' to describe how happy I am... every time I play, I always come close but lose... this time (I won) partly because I was playing on home ground and felt very pumped up with everyone cheering for me.

"I just kept telling myself that whether I win or lose, I just have to keep fighting all the way, point by point."

The Republic Polytechnic student led 11-8 at the halfway mark of the rubber set, but kept his nerve even though Nguyen, 32, kept looking for a way back into the match.

The Vietnamese declined comment after the match, but Kean Yew said: "There wasn't a lot of pressure on me as I was the underdog.

"I was quite confident when I knew I had to play him because I knew that I can handle his style.

"In the rubber set, I told myself not to let him catch up. When experienced players take one or two points, they will take over the match very quickly, also because young players like me tend to lose focus in this scenario.

"This time, I told myself not to lose focus and to go for every single shot."

Lauding the teenager, Singapore Badminton Association secretary general Michael Foo said: "Loh Kean Yew is one of our athletes who has come through our National Intermediate Squad and it's great to see the fruits of labour pay off!"

The giant-slaying Singaporean will face Cambodia's Chanmara Tep in the quarter-finals today.

Singapore's top male shuttler Derek Wong is also through to the last eight today, after beating Cambodia's Cheng Phor Rom 21-10, 21-7 yesterday.

The world No. 52 will face defending champion Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk today.

"I knew my opponent today wasn't too strong so I took the chance to try out a variety of shots. I will take it one shot at a time in my match tomorrow," said the 26-year-old.

While Tanongsak is higher ranked than Wong at 22nd in the world, and has a 4-0 record against the Singaporean in the international circuit, the 24-year-old Thai lost 21-18, 21-19 to Wong in the men's team semi-finals on Thursday, although Thailand eventually won the tie 3-2.

Tanongsak said that the loss was a one-off and he will be back to his best against Wong today.

He said in limited English: "I didn't play to my form back then, maybe because of the pressure of the team event.

"I will just prepare for my match tomorrow and I think I can do better this time."

While most in the crowd, which was about 7,000-strong yesterday at the Indoor Stadium, are likely to back Wong today, Tanongsak said that he will not crack under pressure.

Asked how he would cope with the pressure from the stands, the Thai said: "Okay, nothing... I will just try to focus on my own performance and my own game."

sayheng@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 14, 2015.
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