Patience the key for Singapore's shuttlers
Tough assignments lie in wait for Singapore's representatives at Asian meet
Singapore's top shuttlers are under no illusion about the tough tasks ahead of them at the Badminton Asia Championships in Wuhan, China, today.
They have been drawn to meet pedigree opponents who have regularly stepped on the podium at major meets.
Men's singles hopeful Loh Kean Yew takes on world No. 2 Shi Yuqi, while the Republic's women's singles No. 1 Yeo Jia Min faces Thailand's 2015 SEA Games champion Busanan Ongbamrungphan.
The men's doubles pair of Danny Chrisnanta and Terry Hee will not have it easy either, having been drawn to meet Indonesia's world No. 1 duo of Marcus Fernaldo Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, who won the Asian Games gold medal last year.
It will be the first time that the 1.75m Loh will be squaring off against the 1.84m Shi.
But the 21-year-old has done his homework and knows that he needs to nullify the 23-year-old hard hitter's aggression with patience.
"Facing Shi, who is currently ranked world No. 2, will definitely not be a walk in the park," said Loh, who is ranked world No. 60.
"I look forward to the contest and, regardless of the outcome, I hope I can capitalise on my strengths and do my best when we meet.
"I have not played Shi before, but I know that he is a good all-round player and very aggressive, so I have to be very patient when playing with him."
Shi is among the favourites to win the singles title, along with his fellow countrymen Chen Long and Lin Dan, and reigning champion and world No. 1 Kento Momota.
Momota, who claimed his third title in four competitions this year by winning the Singapore Open just 10 days ago, faces South Korea's 26th-ranked Lee Dong Geun today.
World No. 4 Chen Long meets 11th-ranked Kanta Tsuneyama of Japan, while Lin Dan takes on Malaysia's Daren Liew.
Olympic qualification starts with next week's New Zealand Open, which means shuttlers have an added impetus to do well in Wuhan.
Loh is hoping to bounce back from his defeat by Hong Kong's Lee Cheuk Yiu at the Singapore Open qualifiers.
He said: "As a professional athlete, I have to be always prepared for the letdowns that happen every so often.
"But I have learnt not to dwell too much on missteps, and understood that every experience sets me up to take advantage of the next one.
"The Singapore Open is no exception, and I hope the momentum I build will help me do better in the Badminton Asia Championships."
Yeo, who admitted she should have been more patient after losing to Indonesia's Ruselli Hartawan at the Singapore Open, is hoping to put that experience to good use.
Said the 20-year-old: "The Singapore Open helped me to find out more clearly things that I have been trying to find out and so, from here, it helped me to become clearer on what direction I need to work on and hopefully, with time, I will be better.
"Busanan is a good player. I look forward to challenging her."
Meanwhile, the Republic's duo of Chrisnanta and Tan Wei Han lost 13-21, 22-20, 21-18 to Olympic silver medallists Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying of Malaysia in the first round of the mixed doubles yesterday.