SINGAPORE – Loh Kean Yew was the usual courtesy when he visited The Straits Times office on a show held in honor of the 2021 ST Athlete of the Year award.
It was a busy day for him – the ceremony was a sandwich between two workouts – but the 24-year-old never looked hectic, chatting with guests and posing for a few photos.
Life has become more and more hectic since he became a world champion in badminton last December, but remained firmly grounded.
He said: “I am happy to have won it despite having all the other strong competitors. We all deserve to win this title because we all have our sacrifices and difficulties.
“We all went through our own stresses and we overcame everything. It means a lot to me because it also (confirms) my sacrifices and hard work paid off.”
He started last year in indifferent form with some early exits from the circle, but he spectacularly turned his season around, winning the Dutch Open in Octoberthe German Hylo Open a month later and the final at the World Championships in Huelva, Spain.
Despite an injured ankle and sole in the final rounds, the unplaced Singaporean defeated Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion Viktor Axelsenworld number 3 Anders Antonsen and former world number 1 Kidambi Srikanth on their way to an incredible gold medal.
Loh was one of seven nominees, the largest in the history of the annual award, which began in 2009 and continues to be supported by 100Plus. Last year’s edition was not held due to the pandemic.
Apart from Loh, there were other candidates Yu Mengyu (table tennis), Kimberly Lim and Cecilia Low (sailing), Aloysius Yapp (swimming pool), Max Maeder (foiling dragons), Yip Pin Xiu (para-swimming) i Shayna Ng (bowling).
ST sports editor Lee Yulin led an eight-member jury for this year’s award that included Singapore Hockey Federation President Mathavan Devadas, national floorball coach Louise Khng and national scorer Jasmine Ser.
Lee said: “The Singapore team came back great after the break caused by Covid, and the breadth and depth of their achievements is reflected in the fact that we have seven nominees instead of the usual five.
“Still, Kean Yew’s victory was the one that stood out. His achievement led parents to enroll their children in badminton classes and increased racket and ball sales. For me, that’s proof of how inspiring his achievement was. “
The winners so far are swimmers Tao Li (2008), Quah Ting Wen (2009), national women’s table tennis team (2010), badminton player Fu Mingtian (2011), equestrian pair Laurentia Tan (2012), footballer Safuwan Baharudin (2013). .), swimmer Joseph Schooling (2014, 2016), parachutist Yip Pin Xiu (2015), paranoid tennis player Jason Chee (2017), bowler Muhammad Jaris Goh (2018) and an exponent of Brazilian jiu-jitsu Constance Lien (2019).
Jennifer See, CEO of F&N Foods Singapore, said: “The spirit and goals of the award are in line with 100Plus’ commitment to supporting our athletes and encouraging them to excel in their sport. We hope to contribute to national efforts to nurture potential young athletes in Singapore.
“We would like to congratulate the nominees for this award on their stellar achievements. All nominees have shown strong physical and emotional endurance to achieve the pinnacle of athletic excellence.”