Last year this time, Loh Kean Yew was embarking on what would be his first full season of top tier events.
Not so long back, in the pre-Covid years, the Singaporean was having to try his luck at the Super 300 and Super 100 levels – indeed, at the YONEX German Open 2019, he fell in the first round of qualifying.
Now, as he prepares for the European leg of the HSBC BWF World Tour season beginning with the YONEX German Open 2023, Loh is thankful for the distance he has covered over the last couple of years.
“Before that, I didn’t even get to play Super 500 and above tournaments, and last year was technically my first year of playing the top tier events, and I made quite a lot of quarters and a few semis, and a final, so that was quite okay, considering that it was my first year with this kind of calendar and intensity,” said the affable Singaporean, who’s currently ranked No.8.
Loh’s particularly happy with the way he managed expectations last year, for he’d gone into 2022 as the world champion.
“The pressure is part and parcel of the sport, that’s the pressure we need to handle when we win major titles. I’m glad that I got better and better at managing it. It wasn’t easy, but I learnt something throughout.”
Loh’s high point, ranking-wise, was hitting No.3 last November. In a social media post, he recounted how “surreal” it all felt.
“This feels so surreal, I find it hard to believe and I am very thankful for being on this miraculous journey… I competed at the Tokyo Olympic Games ranked 39th in the world. My 2021 European circuit started with a ranking of 40 at the Dutch Open, and at the 2021 World Championships, I finished the year at 15th and a world title.
“Before the Olympic Games, I always had to pray that I qualify for Super 500 and above tournaments as I wasn’t among the top 32. Being on the reserved list means that only if others withdrew, I stood a chance. My ‘fate’ was determined by others.
“Every time I reach a higher rank, it comes with new challenges to work on: different levels of pressure and expectations, time management, discipline, managing commitments, etc. and consistency. You may have heard me talk about consistency at my interviews, it is a constant reminder I have to make to myself. For most parts of the year, and in my rookie year being in the top 32, I am thankful for the consistency I have set to achieve. I am proud of myself, my team and everyone else who have been working hard to help me.
“It will only get harder from here. I will keep working hard and keep trying my best. Hard work may not always get me the results I desire, but by not working hard, I will definitely not get anywhere close to my goals.”
Loh takes on India’s Mithun Manjunath in the first round of the YONEX German Open that starts on 7 March 2023.
Source: Badminton World Federation