Four years ago, 17-year-old Loh Kean Yew travelled to his first major event. The inspiration from watching his heroes at the Sudirman Cup 2015 set him on the path to becoming Singapore’s top men’s singles player.
This year, the world No.60 is expected to lead Singapore in their campaign in Group 2B of the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2019, where they are placed alongside Germany, Canada and Israel. Teams in groups 2, 3 and 4 are not in contention for the title and will fight for overall placings.
“I played in Dongguan in 2015 when I was 17,” said Loh. “That was my first Sudirman Cup and my first big event. It was an eye-opener. That was when I watched a lot of the top players. I didn’t get to play them, but I got to watch them live, so it motivated me to work harder. That was my first experience of such a big event.”
Loh caused ripples on the circuit earlier this year when he beat Lin Dan in the final of the Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters – the biggest win of his career.
He went on to reach another final in January – at the RSL Swedish Open – where he lost to Japan’s Minoru Koga.
His form continued into the Barcelona Spain Masters, with victories over Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen and India’s Parupalli Kashyap on his way to the quarterfinals, but has had more modest results since then.
Loh, who didn’t play the last edition of the Sudirman Cup in Gold Coast, is hoping his team can make a mark in Nanning.
“We’re going to go there and be united as a team, we’ll try our best. Individual efforts alone won’t take us anywhere.
“The team event is very different from an individual event. If you lose, you lose it for the team, and if you win, you help the team, so it’s a different kind of pressure.”
After the sub-groups of 2, 3 and 4 finish their group assignments, they will be ranked accordingly and will then take on the corresponding ranked team from the opposite sub-group. The result of that tie will determine their place in the overall rankings.