Exclusive: How Dubai played a role in Loh Kean Yew's world championship gold

Loh Kean Yew of Singapore reached the Badminton Asia Championships quarterfinals on Thursday


Rituraj Borkakoty

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Loh Kean Yew at the Badminton Asia Championships in Dubai. — UAE Badminton Federation
Loh Kean Yew at the Badminton Asia Championships in Dubai. — UAE Badminton Federation

Published: Thu 27 Apr 2023, 11:44 PM

Singapore, the small island-country, has rarely produced athletes that have dominated the big stage.

Naturally, Joseph Schooling became an overnight celebrity when he earned Singapore its first-ever Olympic gold in 2016, beating Michael Phelps for the 100 metres butterfly title in one of the greatest upsets in history.

Five years later, it was Loh Kean Yew who became a national hero in Singapore by winning the country's first-ever gold medal at the World Badminton Championships.

The Malaysia-born Yew, who reached the Badminton Asia Championships quarterfinals with an easy 21-14-21-14 win over Bahaedeen Ahmad Alshannik of Jordan on Thursday in Dubai, admits that life has changed after his world championship-winning display.

"After winning definitely, everyone has their eyes on you," Loh told the Khaleej Times.

"You get more attention and you have less privacy. I get asked for pictures on the streets regularly.

"But, I am okay with it. I am getting used to it. My family, my friends have always been very supportive. They make sure I am always protected."

Very few people know Dubai also had a role in Loh's World Championship gold in 2021.

The world number seven trained in Dubai for a month before heading to the Tokyo Olympics.

While he didn't set the stage on fire in Tokyo, Loh was unstoppable at the world championships few months later in Huelva, Spain, where he stunned Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen in the first round before going all the way.

"Viktor invited me to train with him in Dubai before the Olympics. Viktor had trained here before and he liked it. So he invited me. That's how I came here to train," Loh said.

"It was a great experience. I think Dubai has some of the best facilities in the world. I still train in Dubai when the schedule allows me to. I love this city!"

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