We’re so proud of him, say S’pore fans following Loh Kean Yew at World Tour Finals in Bangkok, Latest Team Singapore News - The New Paper
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We’re so proud of him, say S’pore fans following Loh Kean Yew at World Tour Finals in Bangkok

BANGKOK – As Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew opened his maiden Badminton World Federation World Tour Finals campaign with a victory over Taiwanese Chou Tien-chen on Wednesday, cheers rang out in a section of the Nimibutr Arena.

In the stands, a small group of Singaporeans had gathered, clapping and willing on their hero, and waving the national flag after Loh had won each game. Previously strangers, they bonded in the process of rallying behind one of their own.

Clarice Lee and Sherry Lim, friends in their 30s, had flown in just to watch the 25-year-old play. They had previously attended the Singapore Open to support the local players.

Lim, a financial controller, was so invested in the Singaporean players’ progress, she had even created a spreadsheet to chart their World Tour Finals qualification progress and journey.

She said: “It was exciting and nerve-racking. I was also hoping that (mixed doubles pair) Terry Hee and Jessica Tan would qualify also and they missed out narrowly.

“But once the event was shifted from China to Thailand, we knew we had to come watch him play. Waiting for the ticketing system to open was like camping for concert tickets.”

Including flights, accommodation and tickets to the group matches, semi-finals and finals, they spent around $1,000 each.

Lee said: “We are very happy and proud to see him be among the world’s top eight players of the year. He has already done very well, and while we don’t really come with high expectations, we wish him all the best.

“He delivered again today, and we know he can beat the best players if he is in the right form.”

There were other Singaporeans who were watching Loh play live for the first time, and they left inspired and impressed.

Shannon Lee was at the indoor stadium with her husband Ng Wuay Boon. She shared that they are here to support their 11-year-old daughter Evangeline, who trains with the Singapore Gymnastics National Training Centre and is in Bangkok for a rhythmic gymnastics competition, and took the opportunity to catch Loh in action.

Singaporeans Shannon Lee and her husband Ng Wuay Boon are in Bangkok to support their daughter Evangeline for a rhythmic gymnastics competition in Bangkok and made use of the opportunity to also follow Loh Kean Yew (middle) at the BWF World Tour Finals PHOTO: COURTESY OF SHANNON LEE

The financial consultant, 41, said: “I started following Kean Yew since the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, and having a daughter who is also into sports, we identify with the hard work they put in to do well.

“We are inspired by the stories and achievements of national athletes like Kean Yew and (Singapore’s Olympic gymnast) Tan Sze En, and we are happy to come and support a countryman when we can.”

Bank executive Alexstine Aw also could not help but take some time off his wedding preparations with his Thai wife Phitraphee Prasithirun in Bangkok to check out what the hype over the world No. 3 is about.

Singaporean Alexstine Aw and his wife Phitraphee Prasithirun took time off their wedding preparations in Bangkok to watch Loh Kean Yew play at the BWF World Tour Finals. COURTESY OF ALEXSTINE AW

Walking over from their apartment opposite the Arena, Aw, 34, liked what he saw. He said: “There’s good reason Kean Yew is in the world’s top three now. He showed good strategy and execution, testing his opponent before going all out for the kill.

“This guy is really the pride of Singapore and because of his exploits, a lot of people who previously didn’t know about Singapore will get to hear about our country.”

A grateful Loh said: “It’s always nice to see fellow Singaporeans overseas and have someone cheering for me. I really appreciate all the fans who have supported me not just at this event but also from before.”

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