27 September 17 The Straits Times by LESTER WONG
His skills and conditioning may be a little rusty during his ongoing stint as a full-time national serviceman (NSF), but Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew's zest for the sport remains as robust as ever.
The 20-year-old tapped on that passion to somehow battle his way to the OUE Singapore International Series men's singles title, after beating compatriot Ryan Ng 21-15, 21-15 in last Saturday's final.
After finding out that he was playing only the week before, Loh said: "I panicked and asked for leave (from NS commitments) to do some extra training at night.
"Maybe that's why I could just go out and enjoy myself, because I didn't expect to be able to keep up with the rest of the players fitness and skill-wise."
This is his second International Series (Tier 4) title in three months.
The world No. 312 had also surprised himself and his opponents to win the Malaysia International Series title in July.
International Series titles Loh Kean Yew has won in three months.
His lack of fitness took its toll at last month's SEA Games, however.
He picked up a bronze in the team event, but was not able to improve on his 2015 singles bronze, losing in the quarter-finals in Kuala Lumpur.
"I had only a couple of weeks before to prepare and that's not really enough," he said.
"I tried to 'chiong' (go hard in Hokkien) in training but I got injured, didn't recover properly before playing, and got injured again."
Next April's Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, remains a goal for Loh but he acknowledged getting into peak condition would again be difficult, with his NS stint due to end only next October.
"Of course I want to try for it, but for major Games we count the preparation by years, not by weeks. It's really hard if I rush my training like (before SEA Games)," he said.
"To get back my strength and fitness back will take at least half a year, but the longer the better."