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SINGAPORE — Reigning world champion Loh Kean Yew stayed on course to land Singapore's first SEA Games badminton men's singles gold since 1983, as he powered his way into the semi-finals at the Bac Giang Gymnasium on Friday (20 May).
The top-seeded shuttler, ranked No.10 in the world, easily defeated the Philippines' Jewel Angel Albo 21-7, 21-8 in the quarter-finals to set up a semi-final clash with Vietnam's Nguyen Tien Minh.
Nguyen, ranked world No.69, advanced after his quarter-final opponent Khosit Phetpradab of Thailand retired with injury while trailing 1-17 in the first set.
In the other half of the semi-final bracket, Singapore shuttler Jason Teh will face Thailand's second-seeded Kunlavut Vitidsarn.
Teh had defeated Indonesia's Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo 21-16, 21-16 to set up the clash with the Thai, who is currently ranked world No.18.
Being the top-ranked player left in the competition, Loh will be fancied to become the second Singaporean after Wong Shoon Keat to win the men's singles gold.
Besides Wong's historic feat at the 1983 Games on home soil, Singapore have won the badminton gold medal on only two other occasions: in 2003 when the women's shuttlers won the team gold in Ho Chi Minh City, and in 2011 when Fu Mingtian won the women's singles gold in Jakarta.
Other Singaporean shuttlers who reached the semi-finals
Loh's elder brother Kean Hean and partner Terry Hee also reached the men's doubles semi-finals, after ousting the Thai pair of Peeratchai Sukphun and Pakkapon Teeraratsakul 21-18, 21-13 in their quarter-final tie.
They have a tough assignment next, as they will face top-seeded Indonesians Pramudya Kusumawardana and Yeremia Rambitan for a place in the final.
Hee was however unable to advance into the mixed doubles semi-finals with his wife and playing partner Tan Wei Han, after the duo narrowly lost their quarter-final tie 19-21, 19-21 to Malaysia's Chen Tang Jie and Peck Yen Wei.
In the women's singles, Yeo Jia Min also crashed out in the quarter-finals, losing 12-21, 16-21 to Thailand's Phittayaporn Chaiwan.
In the women's doubles competition, Singapore's Insyirah Khan and Bernice Lim continued to make pleasing progress as they defeated the Philippines' Angelique Ramos and Eleanor Inlayo 21-15, 21-19 to make it to the semi-finals.
However, like Loh and Hee in the men's doubles, the young duo will be meeting a formidable barrier in their semi-final tie, facing top-seeded Indonesians Apriyani Rahayu and Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti.