Loh Kean Yew reaches India Open q-finals, receives $200,000 cash reward from tycoon

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  • Loh Kean Yew
    Loh Kean Yew
    Singaporean badminton player
Singapore's Loh Kean Yew in action at the BWF World Championships in December 2021.
Singapore's Loh Kean Yew in action at the BWF World Championships in December 2021. (PHOTO: Jose Jordan/AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Shuttler Loh Kean Yew advanced into the men's singles quarter-finals of the India Open on Thursday (13 January), a day after receiving a $200,000 reward from an Indonesian tycoon's foundation for his World Championships triumph last month.

The Singaporean defeated Malaysia's Soong Joo Ven 21-12, 21-12 in 33 minutes to set up a clash with Russia's Sergey Sirant in Friday's quarter-finals.

Now ranked at a career-high world No.15, Loh was rarely troubled by his 70th-ranked opponent, building up healthy leads in the middle of both sets to seal the comfortable victory.

Loh had started the tournament - his first since becoming world champion - with a three-set win over Canada's Sheng Xiaodong in the round-of-32 tie on Tuesday.

His compatriot Yeo Jia Min also advanced into the women's singles quarter-finals, the third-seeded shuttler defeating India's Anupama Upadhyaya 13-21, 21-7, 21-12 in 52 minutes in her round-of-16 tie. She will next face Thailand's Supanida Katethong.

The tournament was hit by the withdrawals of seven players after they were tested positive for COVID-19. The players were not replaced in the main draw, and their opponents were given a walkover to the next round.

Among those who were given the walkover were Singapore's mixed doubles duo of Terry Hee and Tan Wei Han, who had been scheduled to face India's Akshan Shetty and Simran Singhi in their last-16 tie.

Hee and Loh's brother Kean Hean also advanced in the men's doubles event, as they defeated India's Gaurav Deswal and Shubham Yadav 21-12, 21-11 to reach the quarter-finals.

Cash reward from Karim Family Foundation

Loh had received a $200,000 cash reward on Wednesday from the Karim Family Foundation, which is set up by the family of Indonesian tycoon Bachtiar Karim and his wife Dewi Sukwanto. The Straits Times reported that the foundation wanted to reward the shuttler for his exploits at the World Championships, and to urge him to continue pursuing his dream of winning an Olympic medal.

Karim, 65, is ranked 10th on Forbes' list of Indonesia's 50 richest in 2021 with a net worth of US$3.5 billion (S$4.7 billion). 

He runs integrated palm oil firm Musim Mas with his brothers Burhan and Bahari, and is known for his philanthropy. According to The Straits Times, Musim Mas Holdings had donated $2.27 million to Karim's alma mater, the National University of Singapore, to start a professorship in sustainability in its business school in 2010. The company also donated $5 million to various causes, including the Singapore General Hospital and the Alzheimer's Disease Association, in 2020.

With the $200,000 reward from the Karim Family Foundation, Loh's rewards kitty is now over $495,000. This includes money from a crowdfunding exercise initiated on a personal basis by Wei Chan, a Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) committee member, which drew $165,299 from over 700 donors. Local business leaders and individuals, as well as SBA and its equipment and apparel sponsor Li-Ning, have also chipped in $130,000.

The India Open quarter-finals will be shown on StarHub Ch205 from 3.30pm on Friday.

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