Date: 09 to 14 April 2019
Venue: Singapore Indoor Stadium
Ticket Prices: from S$2


LOH KEAN YEW CAUSED A SENSATION when he beat Chinese badminton legend and two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan at the Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters in Bangkok earlier in January. Loh will be in competitive action again this April at the Singapore Badminton Open 2019. Here to Play caught up with the 21-year-old between his training sessions for a one-to-one chat:

How did you first get into the game?
I used to play badminton with my brothers, using the gate of our house in Malaysia as the net. When I turned nine, I joined my brother, Kean Hean, to train at the same badminton academy. At the age of 10, I won a competition organised by the academy. After a few months, I won another zonal competition. This was followed by the state competition — my first official tournament — where I reached the semi-final. I came to Singapore at 13 when I was offered a foreign sports scholarship to train at the Singapore Sports School.

Was it an easy decision for you to turn professional?
It wasn't easy making the decision to come to Singapore as I would be away from my parents, but it was necessary for my education and career.

What is your training regime like?
I train six days a week — mornings on the badminton court, while most afternoons are spent on physical training. These include running, gym, footwork and skipping. Sunday is my rest day.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Beating Lin Dan at the Thailand Masters final. Winning the tournament was also my best performance to date.

Who is your role model in the sport?
Lin Dan. He's a player I've been watching since young.

How do you cope with the pressure of top-flight competition?
My stint in Denmark showed me I was still far from reaching world-class standard. The training sessions made me see how intensely focused the players are. They know exactly what they want and need to work on. For me to get to that level, everything about my game needs to improve, especially my fitness; my touches also need refining. Overall, training and playing in this type of intense and competitive environment where there are not many distractions was a very good experience that boosted my development.

What do you do to unwind?
I like to lay down and use my phone, from reading manga to playing games to scrolling through Facebook or Instagram.

It has been said that it's awfully hard to book a badminton court in Singapore on weekends. Can you account for the sport's popularity here?
I don't have to book badminton courts because I play enough during training! So I wouldn't know... but I'm glad to hear that it's difficult to book, which means badminton is very popular in Singapore.

To someone who has never played badminton before, how would you 'sell' the sport to him/her?
Come and watch the Singapore Badminton Open and you will know how exciting the sport is. By the way, did you know badminton is the fastest racquet sport?