Loh Kean Yew makes history as he smashes into BWF World Championships semi-finals

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Badminton - Men's Singles - Group Stage - MFS - Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, Tokyo, Japan – July 28, 2021. Loh Kean Yew of Singapore in action during the match against Jonatan Christie of Indonesia. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew in action at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (PHOTO: Reuters/Leonhard Foeger)

SINGAPORE — Loh Kean Yew will become the first Singaporean shuttler to win a medal at the prestigious Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Championships, after he defeated India's HS Prannoy to reach the men's singles semi-finals in Huelva, Spain on Friday (17 December).

The world No.22's 21-14, 21-12 quarter-final victory in 43 minutes over his 32nd-ranked opponent - whom he had never beaten in two previous encounters - means that he is assured of at least a bronze medal, as losing semi-finalists automatically earn the bronzes at the tournament.

The 24-year-old will face world No.3 Anders Antonsen on Saturday for a place in Sunday's final. The Dane advanced when his Malaysian opponent, reigning All-England champion Lee Zii Jia, retired with an injury while trailing 21-12, 8-21, 1-11 in their quarter-final match.

Loh's historic quarter-final win marks the first time a Singapore shuttler has advanced past the last-eight in five attempts. The women's doubles pair of Jiang Yanmei/Li Yujia (2007), men's singles player Ronald Susilo (2007), the mixed doubles pair of Chayut Triyachart and Yao Lei (2011) and women's singles player Yeo Jia Min (2019) were the previous Singaporeans who had reached this stage.

Loh has already had a memorable tournament in Huelva, after his first-round upset of world No.1 and reigning Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen on Monday. He followed up that momentous win with impressive routs over Austria's Luka Wraber on Wednesday and Thailand's Kantaphon Wangcharoen on Thursday..

It has been an outstanding final three months of the year for the Singaporean, whose form soared after Axelsen invited him to train together in Dubai after the Tokyo Olympics in August.

Following that stint, he began his hot streak by winning the Dutch Open in October, then earning his biggest career title in November by clinching the Hylo Open in Germany, which is a BWF World Tour Super 500-level event.

Late last month at the Super 1000-level Indonesia Open in Bali, Loh stunned then-world No.1 Kento Momota in the last-16 round, and made it all the way to the final before succumbing to Axelsen in three sets.

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