HANOI: With the crowd backing his Vietnamese opponent, with several calls going the other way, and with defeat staring him in the face - Singapore's Loh Kean Yew said no.
The 24-year-old kept his composure and booked his spot in the 31st SEA Games men’s singles finals on Saturday (May 21) after surviving a scare to beat Nguyen Tien Minh.
At the Bac Giang gymnasium, Loh beat the home favourite 21-15, 10-21, 23-21 to qualify for his second straight Games finals.
"(I just wanted to) just keep hanging in," he told reporters after his win. "Post-COVID, I haven't been playing in such a loud atmosphere, loud environment. So it was definitely a good one."
This is Loh’s third career victory over the 39-year-old Vietnamese in four meetings.
World number 10 Loh will now face Thailand’s world number 18 Kunlavut Vitidsarn in the final on Sunday.
"Every match has its own toughness," said Loh. "I'm glad I (made a) breakthrough today with my performance and my progress."
Kunlavut beat Singapore’s Jason Teh 21-11, 21-12 in the other men’s singles semi-finals. Teh is ranked 88th in the world and will take joint-bronze in the event.
Loh had also made the finals at the 2019 Games but took silver after losing to Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia.
The last time Singapore won the men's singles at the SEA Games was in 1983 on home soil, courtesy of Wong Shoon Keat.
In the men’s doubles, Loh Kean Hean and Terry Hee stretched Indonesian top seeds Yeremia Rambitan and Pramudya Kusumawardana to their limits but came up just short of the final.
The Indonesian top seeds would take the match 15-21, 21-17, 21-19 to book their place in the final.
The last time a Singaporean men’s doubles pairing made the finals of the Games was in 2007 when Hendra Wijaya and Hendri Saputra claimed silver.
In the women’s doubles, Singapore’s Nur Insyirah Khan Abdul Hamid and Bernice Lim fell 10-21, 7-21 to Indonesia’s Apriyani Rahayu and Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti.
The Singapore pair end the competition with joint bronze.