SINGAPORE – Another qualification mark met, and Soh Rui Yong is already onto the next. On Sunday (Nov 28) the Republic’s top marathoner clocked 31 min 28.67sec in the 10,000m event at Singapore Athletics’ All Comers 5 meet, comfortably clearing the Asian Games qualification mark of 31:44.14.
Now, he is eyeing a place in the marathon race of the Asiad, which will be held in Hangzhou next September, as well.
Soh will leave Singapore on Tuesday night to compete in the Valencia Marathon in Spain hoping to better the Games qualification mark of 2hr 23min 42sec, which is two seconds faster than his national record.
This past June, he had also cleared the qualification mark for the 1,500m event at the SEA Games that will take place next May in Hanoi.
He said that in the new year, he will leave for London where he will begin reading law at the University College London for three years.
“I’ll look for a 10,000m (race) in England and try to take my national record to below 31 minutes,” said Soh. “That’ll be a significant milestone for Singapore distance running.”
Sunday’s effort was his second try at qualifying for the Asian Games in two months, having clocked 31:57 in September.
He said that good competition – from Gurkha runner Subhas Gurung who clocked 31:46:14 – as well as training partners from a team of runners coached by his former Raffles Junior College coach Steven Quek, helped make a difference this time.
“They have been taking turns to run alternate laps with me at training… (and) it’s really crucial to have some good company,” said Soh.
“While he (Quek) doesn’t directly coach me, I’m very happy for the chance to work with him and his group. So huge thanks to him.”
In addition to the marathon, Soh is also the national record holder for the 2,400m (6:53.18), 5,000m (14:11:21), 10,000m ( 31:15:95) and half-marathon (66:41).
He is the first Singaporean marathoner to win back-to-back SEA Games gold medals, in 2015 and 2017, but was surprisingly omitted from the 2019 edition despite meeting the qualifying time.
The Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) – whose selection committee decides on which athletes to send to major Games – said then that they arrived at the decision as Soh had displayed “conduct that falls short of the standards of attitude and behaviour that the SNOC expects of and holds its athletes to”.
Prior to the snub, the runner and the SNOC had clashed on a number of occasions, including before the 2017 SEA Games when he was issued a formal warning by the council over a breach of regulations regarding the promotion of his personal sponsors on social media during the Games.
A post shared by Soh Rui Yong 🇸🇬 (苏睿勇) (@runsohfast)
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