Loo-king good at a smashing 74

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IPOH — If the coming ‘Lee Chong Wei’ movie has a sequel, look no further than Loo Ah Hooi to play the badminton legend at 74.

For someone who never thought he would become a professional shuttler, Loo only started playing in major international senior tourneys twelve years ago when he retired from office at 62.

The septuagenarian also stood up to wear and tear – he’s got a new knee. But he wields a mean racket, not walking stick. His sons are older than Lee.

Born and bred here, Loo’s greatest achievement was in his younger days for school, SMK Anderson.

“I started badminton when I was nine. With neighbourhood kids in the laundry-yard court. Then played for school and with friends in university. I never stopped playing when working. I play twice a week,” he told Malay Mail at his home in Taman Chateau here.

“It was more on my studies and work, with badminton just a hobby. But everything changed when I retired from work. With more time, I turned to competitive senior tournaments,” he added.

The break came after several senior championships around the world, Loo partnering Ching Kon Kong, 75, in the men’s doubles 70-plus event in the 2015 BWF World Senior Badminton Championships held in Helsingborg, Sweden. This was Loo’s first BWF series and his first recognised senior tournament.

“We went without expectations. Our opponents had a badminton background. To our surprise we cruised to the final and beat the Japanese to win the gold medal.”

But success didn’t come easy. Three years before, he had major surgery, “the consequence of a sport into old age. I had a total knee replacement.”

He stopped playing for three years. “Doctors told me not to continue the sport and avoid any strenuous exercise which could harm the knee,” he said.

But after recovery, he only had a few months before the world series, yet he beat all the odds. He not only played, he won the championship.

Loo, a father of three children aged 44 to 37, is still not quitting despite turning 74 this year.

He recently won a bronze medal in the 2017 BWF World Senior Badminton Championships, in Kochi, India in September. Loo, again partnered Ching to the bronze in men’s doubles 70-plus.

Loo disclosed that veteran shuttlers are not affiliated to BA of Malaysia. “We are in the midst of discussions for assistance of senior shuttlers,” he said.

Loo, who will play ‘into the sunset’ has a parting word: “It’s good to do a sport until old. We cannot push as hard as in our younger days, but even slight activity keeps us healthy.”