Asian badminton stars dominate year-end awards
Loh Kean Yew can still end his year on a high as he gears up for his first appearance at the prestigious season-ending Dec 7 to 11 BWF World Tour Finals in Bangkok.
SINGAPORE: While Loh Kean Yew did not end up becoming the first Singaporean to win the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Male Player of the Year award on Monday (Dec 5), it was still a bumper night for Asia's badminton stars as they were rewarded for their stellar seasons.
Akane Yamaguchi took home her maiden BWF Female Player of the Year award, after the Japanese won back-to-back World Championships titles within the eligibility period of Nov 1, 2021 to Oct 31, 2022.
The women's world No. 1 also clinched this year's All England Open and Japan Open among her other highlights.
“It’s the first time receiving this award and I feel really honoured and happy,” Yamaguchi told the BWF website.
China's Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong - both ranked world No. 3 for mixed doubles - won the BWF Pair of the Year award for 2022, beating Malaysian duo Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik and Thailand's Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai.
Reigning world champion and world No.1 Viktor Axelsen won the BWF Male Player of the Year for the second year in a row, edging out Loh and Malaysian world No. 2 Lee Zii Jia.
"Winning this award at the end of the year means a great deal. It’s a recap of the whole year, and when you win this award with so many great nominees and amazing opponents, I’m really, really happy. Thank you so much to all the guys who thought that I deserved this,” Denmark's Axelsen told the BWF website.
The awards were announced during the BWF World Tour Finals gala dinner in Bangkok on Monday.
World No. 3 Loh's nomination marked the first time a Singaporean was shortlisted for the BWF Male Player of the Year award, adding to his growing trail of historic achievements, including winning the 2021 World Championships title.
He will next compete - as the first Singaporean man to do so - at the prestigious season-ending Dec 7 to 11 BWF World Tour Finals in Bangkok.
Loh is in Group B alongside Taiwan's Chou Tien-chen, and Indonesia's Jonatan Christie and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting.
He has a chance to reach a career high world No. 2 depending on his results at the final tournament of the year.
BWF award winners
Male Player of the Year: Viktor Axelsen (Denmark)
Female Player of the Year: Akane Yamaguchi (Japan)
Pair of the Year: Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong (China)
Most Promising Player: Kodai Naraoka (Japan)
Most Improved Players of the Year: Fajar Alfian and Rian Ardianto (Indonesia)