Sports

History made as Yeo Jia Min reaches World Championship quarter-finals

Shuttler, 20, achieves S'pore's best women's singles showing at world c'ships

Shuttler Yeo Jia Min made history yesterday by becoming the first Singaporean woman to reach the quarter-finals of the BWF World Championships.

The 20-year-old defeated Vietnam's Vu Thi Trang 21-15, 14-21, 21-16 after a gruelling 72-minute battle at the St Jakobshalle arena in Basel, Switzerland, to seal her place in the last eight.

Yeo, who is ranked world No. 32, will face Thailand's world No. 6 Ratchanok Intanon today for a place in the semi-finals.

Admitting that she was more relieved than excited after beating the 74th-ranked Vu, Yeo was elated to have achieved the Republic's best women's singles showing at the World Championships.

"I'm honoured and will continue to strive for glory for Singapore," she said.

Her next opponent Ratchanok, 24, showed why she won the world title in 2013 when she saved two match-points en route to beating Indonesia's Gregoria Mariska Tunjung 18-21, 23-21, 21-10 in a later quarter-final.

When asked for her thoughts on meeting the 2015 SEA Games champion who had beaten her 21-7, 21-12 at the German Open in February, Yeo said: "Looking to fight again on the court."

Yeo, who had defeated world No. 1 Akane Yamaguchi in the Round of 32 on Tuesday, got off to a good start against Vu yesterday when she won the first game 21-15 in 20 minutes.

But Vu, 27, stepped up the pace in the second game as Yeo, who received treatment for a lower-back discomfort, stumbled and lost 14-21.

Yeo, however, regained the initiative in the third game. Trailing 2-3, she turned the tables to snatch the lead at 4-3 and never relinquished it.

She sank to her knees after converting her fourth match-point, saying: "I felt relieved because I was determined to win."

Badminton fans in Singapore have been delighted by the performances of their shuttlers at the World Championships.

One of them, Lui Syenkai, a 29-year-old bank compliance officer, said: "Since the arrival of coach Mulyo (Handoyo), I feel that the quality of the Singapore badminton players has gradually improved.

"Results are showing through more wins and podium finishes recently.

"I am very excited especially for our singles players (Loh Kean Yew and Yeo Jia Min) as they both are scaling greater heights and breaking records at the World Championships."

The winner of the tie between Yeo and Ratchanok will meet either Japan's Nozomi Okuhara or China's He Bingjiao in the semi-finals.

The last time a Singaporean shuttler reached the last eight of the World Championship singles competition was in 2007, when Ronald Susilo's brave run in the men's event was halted by China's Chen Yu.

In the men's singles yesterday, Singapore's world No. 34 Loh Kean Yew came close to emulating that feat.

The 22-year-old stretched world No. 2 Chou Tien-chen to the rubber but lost their Round-of-16 tie 13-21, 21-18, 17-21.

Chou's quarter-final opponent will be either India's Srikanth Kidambi or Thailand's Kantaphon Wangcharoen.

Other big names such as world No. 1 Kento Momota and fifth-ranked Chen Long also progressed to the last eight.

Top seed Momota defeated India's Prannoy H.S. 21-19, 21-12 and will meet Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia next.

OTHER SPORTS