5 Things About Loh Kean Yew, the Newly Minted World No.3 in Badminton

By Chong Seow Wei

The 2022 Gen.T honouree has achieved a new career high after rising once again in the world rankings just one month after he climbed to fifth place

Tatler Asia
Photo: Getty Images
Cover  Loh Kean Yew (Photo: Getty Images)

In early November 2021, Singapore badminton player Loh Kean Yew ranked 39th in the world. Now, about a year later, he is third, according to the latest Badminton World Federation (BWF) world rankings on Tuesday.

This is a career-high for Loh, who is a 2022 Gen.T honouree, and also the first time a Singapore men’s badminton player has ever ranked in the top three. The only other Singapore player to achieve the same ranking is Zarinah Abdullah, the country’s first professional female badminton player and a two-time Olympian, back in 1994.

Loh’s latest ascend in the global rankings came after he competed at Germany’s Hylo Open, where he got into the quarter-finals before being eliminated by Anthony Ginting of Indonesia.

Here are a few more interesting facts about the young athlete.

Read more: 10 Sports Stars on the Gen.T List 2022 to Know

1. A Malaysian by birth

Loh was born in Penang, Malaysia, before he moved to Singapore on scholarship with the Singapore Sports School after being noticed for his badminton skills.

He played his first international game for Singapore in 2015, where he represented the country at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. There, he took home the bronze medal after being eliminated by  Malaysia’s Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif in the men’s singles semi-finals. He also won bronze when he participated in the SEA Games in 2017 and 2019. 

2. He started playing at a young age but stopped for a while

At four years old, Loh picked up badminton as a fun sport to play with his brothers and neighbour. But at seven, he stopped playing after being looked down on by his seniors. It was only two years later when he picked up the sport again. 

Within a few months of that, he joined the Penang state team and underwent training together with one of his older brother, Low Kean Hean, who is also a member of the Singapore national team, at the Penang Badminton Association until he was 12. 

In 2009, he took part in the National Junior Grand Prix Finals and defeated Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia, a 2021 Gen.T honouree, in the under-12 final.

3. He moved to Singapore without his parents

At 13 years old, Loh moved to Singapore to attend the Singapore Sports School while his family remained in Malaysia. Relatives and family friends took care of him during this period, as he continued to train at the academy under Kelvin Ho, a former local national shuttler and currently Singapore’s singles head coach.

After graduating from the sports school, he went on to enrol into a local polytechnic, but dropped out after a year to focus on playing badminton full-time.

4. His climb to the top

The first senior tournament that Loh kicked off his professional career with was the Chinese Taipei Open in 2012. Then only 15 years old, he participated in the men’s singles and the mixed doubles, but failed to proceed beyond the second round for both.

Since then, he has gone on to play in numerous other major matches worldwide, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the BWF World Championships.

This year, he has also been named Sportsman of the Year at the Singapore Sports Awards and BWF Player of the Year.

5. He once defeated the world’s top-ranking player

In December 2021, Loh made global headlines when he won the men’s singles match at the BWF World Championships, which included defeating world no.1 Viktor Axelson. With that, he became Singapore’s first world champion in the sport.

He will compete in the Australian Open next week and also the BWF World Tour Finals in Bangkok in mid-December.

See more honourees in the Sports category of the Gen.T List 2022.

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