SINGAPORE: Top badminton player Loh Kean Yew was bested in the final of the Thailand Masters on Sunday (Feb 4) by Taiwan’s Chou Tien-Chen, 21-16, 6-21, 21-16.

Loh, who made sports history in Singapore by winning the BWF World Championships in 2021, is currently ranked 12th. Chou is ranked two spots below him at 14th.

The 26-year-old Singaporean athlete has yet to clinch a title since his historic win. But for now, he is taking home US$7,980 (S$10,727) for second place.

Loh had breezed past China’s Huang Yu Kai (21-15, 21-13) and Israel’s Misha Zilberman  (21-9, 21-6) in earlier rounds before besting Japan’s Takuma Obayashi (21-13, 21-13) at the quarter-finals. On Saturday (Feb 3), he took on and defeated Taiwan’s Su Li-yang (21-14, 21-14), coming close to gaining a title again.

However, facing Chou, formerly ranked number 2 globally, proved to be his Waterloo at the Thailand Masters.

The ever-cheerful Loh, however, took the defeat in stride and wrote a social media post on Monday (Feb 5) that he was headed back to Singapore to get ready for his next matches.

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“Had a great time in Bangkok playing in front of an awesome crowd. Grateful for the support, the opportunity to stand on the podium, and the support team on this trip 😄 Heading home to prepare for the Badminton Asia Team Championships next week!”

Instagram screengrab/Loh Kean Yew

Posting a photo from the airport with luggage in tow, he added, “Hope everyone is looking forward to celebrating the Lunar New Year and to usher in the year of the Dragon! See you all next week in Malaysia!”

Congratulations poured in from supporters over his second-place finish. Fans cheered him on and wished him luck for the Badminton Asia Team Championships.

Making it to the podium at the Thailand Masters meant a lot to Loh, he told The Straits Times. “Although I didn’t win, I’m still happy that I managed to reach the finals. I’ve been working on some minor changes and the coaches and I are glad to see improvements.”

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He went on to say, “There are still some stuff lacking, and through this loss we learn again, we keep improving, and hopefully we’ll get better.”

Loh recently sprang a surprise to the public, revealing that he had gotten married early in 2023. And while he posted photos of having proposed and marrying, he stopped short of revealing the identity of his wife. /TISG

Read also: Loh Kean Yew reveals he married his mystery girlfriend early this year