Loh Kean Yew becomes Singapore’s first badminton world champion

The 24-year-old Olympian made history at the BWF World Championships in Huelva as he defeated India's Kidambi Srikanth in the men's singles final.

By Ed Knowles

Loh Kean Yew has become Singapore's first ever badminton world champion at the BWF 2021 World Championships on Sunday (19 December). He beat India's Kidambi Srikanth 21-15, 22-20 in Huelva, Spain.

The win is the best career achievement to date for both finalists in a match that lasted 43 minutes. The victory saw Loh lauded as a ‘sporting legend’ in the immediate aftermath by the Straits Times.

Loh’s incredible tournament started with a shock win against top-seeded Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen. He went on to beat world number three Anders Antonsen in the semis.

“I didn’t expect to come all the way into the final,” Loh said ahead of his historic match.

The world championships started in 1977. Since then, only China, Indonesia, Denmark, and Japan had won a title. The victory will be held up as one of the greatest sporting achievements for Singapore. Other highlights include swimmer Joseph Schooling's 100m butterfly gold ahead of Micheal Phelps at Rio 2016 and Li Li’s badminton victory in the women’s badminton singles at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Loh Kean Yew on becoming a world champion

“I’m super, super happy. This feels like a dream, and now it’s a dream come true," he said to The Straits Times.

"I grew up watching Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei playing such big finals and now I’m here as the world champion. It’s unbelievable.“I’m honoured to deliver this first gold for Singapore. I know many Singaporeans have been staying up to follow my progress, and I want to thank everyone for their support and for being a huge motivation.

“I feel I have improved over the past few months, but I still have a long way to go to be where I want to be, and I will continue to work hard to be even better as I chase my dream of winning an Olympic medal for Singapore.”

2021 BWF World Championships: Full results

In the other matches, Yamaguchi Akane triumphed over Olympic silver medallist Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in straight games (21-14, 21-11) in the women’s singles finals.

“I’ve played a lot of matches over the last few months. There were good moments and bad moments, but at the end I’m very happy with my performance and very happy with this result,” said Yamaguchi.

“The speed of the game was very fast and I couldn’t control it,” said Tai. “I didn’t find my way or my game. I was a bit passive and behind on the scores. It’s true that I had some problems with my body in the second game, but maybe I was in too much hurry and I couldn’t follow the game as she was too quick.”

Hoki Takuro and Kobayashi Yugo celebrate

China’s top seeds in the women’s doubles overcame the South Koreans. Qing Chen Chen and Yi Fan Jia beat Sohee Lee and Seungchan Shin (21-16, 21-17).

Japan were lost out in the mixed doubles as Thailand’s top-ranked pair, Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai, beat Watanabe Yuta and Higashino Arisa (21-13, 21-14). But Japan were victors in the men’s doubles final. Hoki Takuro and Kobayashi Yugo beat the Chinese pairing of He Jiting and Tan Qiang (21-12, 21-18).

READ: Catch up as it happened with our 2021 BWF World Championships live blog

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