Loh Kean Yew says he'll "work on consistency" after second straight silver at SEA Games

The reigning badminton world champion lost in straight sets to Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn in the men's singles final in Hanoi: "The title of SEA Games gold medallist will be on my list and hopefully I'll be able to do it the next time," the 24-year-old said.

By Ken Browne and Alessandro Poggi

Badminton world champion Loh Kean Yew came agonisingly close to a maiden SEA Games title once again.

In the men's singles final at the Bac Giang gymnasium in Hanoi, Vietnam, the Singaporean shuttler took silver after losing to Thailand's world number 18 Kunlavut Vitidsarn in straight sets (13-21, 13-21) on Sunday (22 May).

"[I feel] a little disappointed for sure, but I tried my best and I gave my all," Loh told Olympics.com after the match.

The 24-year-old also made the final two years ago in the Philippines when he was beaten by Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia, whilst he claimed bronze in 2015 when Singapore hosted the event.

But the world number 10 hasn't given up on his title quest:

"I would like [to win] it. Definitely the title of SEA Games gold medallist will be on my list and hopefully I'll be able to do it the next time. I still need to discuss future plans with my coach, but I'll be happy to represent Singapore again."

He might not have to wait too long with the 2023 SEA Games set for Cambodia next year, this year's SEA Games were supposed to happen in 2021 but were postponed to 2022 because of Covid.

Loh admitted that tiredness affected him during the tournament.

The Huelva 2021 World Championships gold medallist won all his singles games for Singapore at the BWF Thomas Cup before flying to Hanoi just days ahead of his opening match.

But he wasn't making any excuses for his loss.

"I just went in and tried my best, and it just wasn't enough," Loh told reporters after the match.

"I was definitely tired. Of course, my opponent was also tired. It's about how you manage it and he managed it better than me," he said.

"I definitely feel I can play better than this," said Loh. "I'll go back and talk to my coach and work on some things and try to improve and get better."

After surviving a scare in a three-game thriller against 39-year-old Nguyen Tien Minh in the semi-final, the Singaporean was no match for the in-form three-time junior world champion Vitidsarn, who this year won his first World Tour title in Germany.

"I've never had an easy game with him," reflects Loh, who's now 1-2 in the head-to-head against the Thai player.

"Every time I play him is very tiring. So hopefully the next time it'll be me on the winning side."

Working for Paris 2024

Next for the world champion are the 2022 Indonesia Masters starting on 7 June in Jakarta.

Training will be now his priority as the Tokyo 2020 Olympian looks to continue his preparation towards his next goal, Paris 2024.

"Since young, I've always dreamed of Olympic gold," the 24-year-old said.

"I am definitely targeting a medal and hopefully I'll be able to get a medal.

"Thre's still a little bit of time before 2024. Right now I'm working on my consistency, trying to be as consistent as possible in every competition. I'll try to perform with all this pressure on me and all.

"I'm still learning how to manage this and hopefully I'll be become better and better at handling this. And by the time Paris 2024 comes, I'll be good at this."

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