Badminton: Loh Kean Yew ‘honoured’ to be nominated for BWF Male Player of the Year award

Loh Kean Yew receiving the Singapore Badminton Association's Player of the Year award on Nov 20, 2022. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE – World No. 3 Loh Kean Yew has been shortlisted as one of three candidates for the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) Male Player of the Year award.

Aptly, the top three men’s singles players have been nominated, with Singaporean Loh, the 2021 world champion, joining Denmark’s reigning world champion and world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen and Malaysia’s Asian champion and world No. 2 Lee Zii Jia on the shortlist.

The BWF released its Player of the Year Awards shortlist on Monday and said the nominees were selected based on performances from Nov 1, 2021 to Oct 31, 2022.

The winners will be chosen by the BWF Awards Commission and the awards will be handed out at the BWF World Tour Finals gala dinner in Bangkok on Dec 5.

Cheekily, Loh had posted an Instagram story to say he would vote for himself.

But on a more serious note, he told The Straits Times: “I’m honoured to be one of BWF’s nominees.

“Whatever the result is, the nomination is a recognition of my hard work and results over the past 12 months. It is something I don’t take for granted, and I will strive to continue to improve all aspects of my game.

“I have been doing my best to get ready for my first World Tour Finals in the past two weeks and I hope to do well in Bangkok.”

The awards recognise the achievements of elite able-bodied and para players in eight categories. This is the first time a Singaporean player has made the shortlist, but Loh has already developed a knack for creating history.

During the assessment period, he won the Hylo Open in Germany and reached the Indonesia Open final in November 2021. He then stunned the badminton fraternity by becoming the first Singaporean to win the World Championship in December in Spain.

His exploits helped him become Singapore’s Sportsman of the Year and the Singapore Badminton Association’s Player of the Year as well as The Straits Times’ Athlete of the Year.

While he has yet to win a title in 2022, the 25-year-old was happy with his consistency, as he made it to at least the quarter-finals in eight out of 12 BWF World Tour individual events.

This helped him reach a career high in the world rankings – also a joint-Singapore best alongside 1990s star Zarinah Abdullah – and qualify for the Dec 7-11 BWF World Tour Finals in Bangkok.

Loh is the first Singaporean man to qualify for the prestigious season-ender, after women’s singles teammate Yeo Jia Min became the first player from the Republic to achieve the feat in 2021.

However, Axelsen will be the man to beat as he won a whopping seven BWF World Tour titles, as well as the world and European Championships crowns, during the period. He was also the 2020-2021 BWF Male Player of the Year.

Lee, on the other hand, won the Thailand Open and Asian Championships but did not qualify for the World Tour Finals.

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