SEA Games: Changes explored, even as Singapore badminton matches best tally

Loh Kean Yew in the mens singles final at the 31st SEA games on May 22, 2022. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

HANOI - The Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) will explore "structural changes" in its approach to preparing its shuttlers for competitions, said chief executive officer Alan Ow on Sunday (May 22).

He made the comments shortly after Loh Kean Yew's 21-13, 21-13 defeat by Kunlavut Viditsarn in the men's singles final at the SEA Games.

Ow told The Straits Times: "We have got a very good group of players we are working with... and for us now it's about regrouping quickly and improving in future competitions.

"There are some structural changes for our players that we will look into, in terms of the coaching programme, psychological assistance and strength and conditioning.

"Those are a few areas we are looking at, which will be important given the tournaments will be coming fast and furious."

On the horizon for Loh and his teammates are the July 28-Aug 8 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and Asian Games in Hangzhou, which was slated for September but has been postponed with a date not yet announced.

Even the next edition of the biennial SEA Games is only a year away, as the one in Hanoi had been postponed owing to the pandemic.

In the Vietnamese capital, Singapore's shuttlers claimed one silver medal and five bronzes, a tally which ranked among their best performances at the regional multi-sport event. They had also won six medals in 2003 (one gold, five bronzes) and 2007 (four silvers, two bronzes).

While Ow praised the Singapore players for good performances - singling out the men's doubles pair of Loh Kean Hean and Terry Hee for pushing Indonesian pair Pramudya Kusumawardana and Yeremia Rambitan close in the semi-final - he did concede that the SBA's target was to achieve "one or two more medals".

He added that the SEA Games could provide lessons for the players and the association to improve.

Singapore had come close to staging several upsets but were ultimately unable to sustain the challenge. For instance, they had seized a 2-0 lead in the men’s team semi-final against a Malaysian side made up mostly of second stringers and without their star Lee Zii Jia, only to go down 3-2.

In the men’s doubles semi-final, Kean Hean and Hee, ranked 50th, had also stretched Indonesian top seeds Yeremia  and Pramudya  but eventually fell 15-21, 21-17, 21-19. 

"There were a couple of matches where we were there (nearly closing games) but could not finish them," said Ow.

"So now the question is, 'How can we assist the players to put them in the best condition and be most mentally prepared to finish those chances off?'

"In terms of abilities, we are able to challenge (in matches). All these fine details will be important to taking the next step."

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