KUALA LUMPUR, June 27 — Reigning men’s singles world champion Loh Kean Yew is aware that many of his rivals, including Lee Zii Jia, are aiming to dethrone him.

But the 25-year-old Singaporean is not deterred by the challenges and pressure to defend the elusive title.

Asked about Zii Jia’s decision to withdraw from the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games scheduled from July 28 to Aug 8 to focus on the World Championship in Tokyo from Aug 22-28, Kean Yew said he will still give his best shot to defend the title.

“I am sure he (Zii Jia) is aiming for the (World Championship) gold, everyone else is also aiming for gold or get the best results. I am still going to do my own preparations and go there and try my best,” he told reporters during the Malaysia Open official training session at the Axiata Arena here today.

On Wednesday, national number one Zii Jia announced his withdrawal from the Birmingham Games, citing his recent tight schedule and determination towards winning at the World Championship.

Commenting on the Malaysia Open, which is returning after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Kean Yew said he hoped to display his finest performance, despite feeling a strong draft in the arena.

“I think it is pretty windy here, but everyone is going to play in the same court, so still going to try get used to it and try my best to play. I had about a week’s rest after the Indonesia Open, (am) kind of prepared and hopefully will be able to perform,” he added.

Asked about his preparations to face world number one and Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen in the second round, Kean Yew said: “I think before that I need to focus on my first match because I am playing Lee Cheuk Yiu (of Hong Kong), won’t be an easy game, definitely I wanted to focus on one match at a time,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Penang-born also had the opportunity to meet some of his relatives and friends prior to tournament, set to start from tomorrow till July 3. — Bernama