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No stranger to adversity, Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew prepares for his second Olympic Games

After his world title, there was a wait of 883 days for his next trophy. As time went by, it became clear that the weight of expectations was the price to pay for success.

“I thought about it before, that (maybe) I won that title too soon… But of course, it’s better before than ever,” Loh said.

“It was a good opportunity and… I took advantage of it. “I wouldn’t say winning was a curse because sooner or later I would have had to face it.”

He continues to trust the process and his support system, of which his head coach Ho is an integral part.

“A lot of who I am today is because of him,” Loh added.

For Paris, the goal is to add different dimensions to his game and make him a more complete player, Ho said.

“We will need him to stay consistent in his attacking play. At the same time, we will need to work on defensive drills (and) his court coverage, so that when he plays against opponents who are difficult to play against… he is capable and prepared to defend,” added the coach.

DEAL WITH PRESSURE

When it comes to a big tournament like the Olympics, “everyone can play,” Loh said.

In the last edition of the Games, it was the Guatemalan badminton player Kevin Cordón who upset the apple cart.

Cordon beat Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long in the group stage before reaching the semi-finals. The experienced 37-year-old driver finished fourth.

“There are a lot of surprises during big tournaments, because the more you want it, the harder it will be to perform.

“So it’s about how each player handles their own pressure and also who can perform better.”

Honing the mental game is key and Loh has worked with a sports psychologist over the years.

“Everyone knows that (the mental part) is the hardest part of (an) athlete’s life,” he said.

“In the last two or three years, there have been a lot of constant challenges (whether) psychological, mental or emotional.”

Now no longer the plucky underdog, the Singaporean will head to Paris as a battle-hardened contender with the long-stated goal of an Olympic medal.

Others may have studied his game, but Loh hasn’t stood still and has discovered a few things as well. He has learned, he has grown and the hope is that he is ready.