Kean Yew, Jia Min To Make Their Olympic Debuts
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Badminton Selection
|Loh Kean Yew at Philippines 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Photo by SNOC/Lim Weixiang.||Yeo Jia Min|
Another two of our own, national shuttlers Loh Kean Yew and Yeo Jia Min, have made the qualification list for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, after the Badminton World Federation (BWF) confirmed the list on 7 June 2021.
With the coronavirus pandemic causing the postponement of India Open (11 to 16 May) and Malaysia Open (25 to 30 May) and the cancellation of the Singapore Open (1 to 6 June), the lack of tournaments meant that the qualification for the Olympic spots would be based on virtue of the Race to Tokyo men’s and women’s rankings, with 38 spaces allocated for each singles event. The Race to Tokyo rankings is a system that decides who qualifies for the rescheduled Tokyo Games.
It’s no surprise that 23-year-old Kean Yew and 22-year-old Jia Min, both lauded as Singapore’s top players, would land the spots, given that they were 18th and 17th in the Race to Tokyo rankings, respectively.
Kean Yew said: “I feel pretty excited as it’ll be my Olympic debut. Since young, I’ve dreamt of winning a medal at the Olympics and now I’m finally one step closer to my dream. It’s such an honour to be able to represent Singapore in the Olympics!”
“I feel that qualifying and representing Singapore is already a big honour for me. I wish to be able to convey hope to anyone during this challenging period,” said Jia Min, who expressed her excitement.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong, who had recently witnessed the pair in action at their intensive training sessions, congratulated the Singapore Sports School alumni on his Facebook page: “Really happy for these two, as they will now take their places among the world's best shuttlers. I met them a few months ago on court, as they were training hard, and looking so well – I am sure this news would have brought an even bigger smile to their faces!”
The Singapore Badminton Association, too, chimed in on their Facebook: “We are 100 per cent sure Kean Yew and Jia Min would do their very best and do all of us proud.”
As the first female Singaporean to reach the quarter-finals of the BWF Championships in 2019, Jia Min is well-known for her sensational feat at the Championships, trumping then-World No. 1 Akane Yamaguichi. Jia Min has also collected 3 bronze medals at three consecutive SEA Games (2015, 2017 and 2019).
Kean Yew, too, took down a badminton legend, trouncing two-time Olympic champion and five-time world champion Lin Dan at the 2019 Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters in Bangkok. In three editions of SEA Games (2015, 2017 and 2019), Kean Yew scooped up a bevy of medals (1 silver and 5 bronzes).
Kean Yew has been buckling down in preparation for Tokyo, working closely with his sport science staff Singapore Sport Institute (SSI) such as his strength and conditioning coach, physiology coach, as well as his physiotherapist, masseur, psychologist and nutritionist to ensure he is in top form for the Games, slated to begin on 23 July.
Jia Min has ramping up her training, working on thinking faster on court and preparing herself mentally for any challenges: “For me, the challenge is to get into the right mindset and to be consistent at every training. As it’s my first Olympic Games, I don’t want to give myself any pressure. I just have to perform to my fullest potential for every game and fight well, one match at a time. But I do want to also enjoy the games.”
“It’s not easy not having any competition leading up to the Games because I don’t get to play with foreign players, but I’m doing the best that I can. And not being able to see my biggest pillar of support is a very big challenge for me too,” shared Kean Yew, whose family is in Penang.
But he credits his teammates for their unwavering support, adding that they have been giving their best to help make sure he peaks at the right time: “This is my first Olympic outing, I just want to go into the court and give my very best!”