Singapore rallies for badminton champ with $100K cash reward

Shuttler and 2021’s Badminton World champion Loh Kean Yew. Photo: Loh Kean Yew/Instagram
Shuttler and 2021’s Badminton World champion Loh Kean Yew. Photo: Loh Kean Yew/Instagram

A hundred-plus donors pooled thousands of dollars in just two days to reward Singapore’s first-ever badminton world champion who left the podium without a cash prize.

The Loh Kean Yew Encouragement Fund had raised over S$72,000 (US$53,000) as of this morning from more than 100 donors, plus another S$50,000 (US$37,000) from business leaders, to thank and encourage him after the 24-year-old shuttler won the title last month.

Donations have piled in since Sunday when the campaign was set up by Wei Chan, managing director of the Pine Garden’s Cake bakery and an avid badminton player. He said he understood “the amount of sheer [hard work], perseverance, tenacity and grit” Loh had to overcome to achieve the title. 

“[S]ubsequently finding out that due to the nature of this tournament, Loh Kean Yew fought to win the BWF World Championship 2021 without any prize money, I felt compelled to do something to thank him for what he has achieved for himself and Singapore, and further encourage him towards his badminton hope and dreams,” he wrote. 

Loh took home last year’s championship title after winning the men’s singles finals last month at the BWF World Championships in Huelva, Spain.

Donors threw amounts as low as a dollar to up to thousands. The campaign was kickstarted with a S$50,000 sum from an anonymous donor only identified as a former national badminton team member.

Chan said the campaign started upon the public’s request to also show his support for Loh after Chan last month pooled S$50,000 from five business leaders (including himself) from companies such as skincare distributor Best World International, seafood house Jumbo Group, fintech firm DC Frontiers, and IT company JK Technology.

Some donors felt Loh deserved monetary rewards after Olympian swimmer Joseph Schooling got S$1 million from the government from winning a gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics. 

“This is world class performance on par with the olympics but sans government prize money. Please accept our small token of appreciation,” donor John Lim wrote.

“Respect and impressive. The road you travelled till now is never easy. Here is a small token and blessing. Keep on shuttling bro,” donor Mervin Phay wrote.

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