Business as usual for Kean Yew at World C’ships despite threat from Zii Jia

Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew laughing while eating a banana. – S.S. KANESAN/The Star

REIGNING men’s singles world champion Loh Kean Yew is aware that many of his rivals, including Lee Zii Jia, are aiming to dethrone him.

But the 25-year-old Singaporean is not deterred by the challenges and pressure to defend the elusive title.

Asked about Zii Jia’s decision to withdraw from the Birmingham Commonwealth Games scheduled from July 28-Aug 8 to focus on the World Championship in Tokyo from Aug 22-28, Kean Yew said he would still give it his best shot to defend the title.

“I’m sure he (Zii Jia) is aiming for the (World Championship) gold, everyone else is also aiming for gold or get the best results. I’m still going to do my own preparations and go there and try my best,” he said during the Malaysian Open official training session at the Axiata Arena yesterday.

On Wednesday, national number one Zii Jia announced his withdrawal from the Birmingham Games, citing his recent tight schedule and determination to win the world title.

Commenting on the Malaysian Open, which is returning after a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19, Kean Yew said he hoped to display his finest performance, despite feeling a strong draft in the arena.

“I think it is pretty windy here, but everyone is going to play on the same court. So, I will try to get used to it and try my best to play as well as I can. I had about a week’s rest after the Indonesia Open and I’m kind of prepared and hopefully, I’ll be able to perform,” he added.

Asked about his preparations to face world number one and Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen in the second round, Kean Yew said: “I think before that, I need to focus on my first match because I’m playing Lee Cheuk Yiu (of Hong Kong) and that won’t be an easy game,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Penang-born Kean Yew also had the opportunity to meet some of his relatives and friends prior to the tournament, set to start today until July 3. — Bernama

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