SINGAPORE: On Thursday (21 Sep), Singapore Athletics (SA) unveiled its roster for the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, set to kick off on September 23rd and run until October 8th.
Singapore boasts its most extensive team to date, comprising 431 athletes across 32 sports.
In a recent update, Singaporean long-distance runner Soh Rui Yong has once again confirmed that he will not be representing Singapore at the event.
Backed by Singapore Athletics, he reached out to the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) for the second time in July 2023, hoping for reconsideration of his participation in the upcoming sporting events.
Unfortunately, Mr Soh shared that SNOC’s decision remained unchanged.
As a result, Singapore continues to lack male representation in the Asian Games’ 10,000m and marathon events, a situation likely to persist until at least the 2026 Asian Games.
Previously, under the leadership of former SNOC President Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, a controversial decision was made to exclude Mr Soh from the upcoming Asian Games.
However, two months ago, Mr Tan resigned from SNOC, as well as from his political position as a Member of Parliament of the People’s Action Party and Speaker of Parliament, following an extramarital affair.
Soh, a two-time SEA Games marathon champion, returned to international competition at the Cambodia SEA Games in May this year, where he won a silver medal in the 10,000m race.
Although Mr Soh met the Asian Games qualifying criteria for the same distance, his name strikingly did not appear on SNOC’s roster for the event.
This comes amid a protracted public feud between Soh and SNOC, largely fueled by Soh’s social media postings.
Despite Soh and Singapore Athletics’ (SA) efforts to appeal the decision, SNOC stood firm on its stance.
They cited Soh’s failure to “honour commitments” and his continuation of “disparaging and derisive remarks about others in the public domain.”
In his latest Facebook post, Mr Soh extended his well-wishes to Mr Tan while also pointing out the irony of the situation.
He observed that it was ironic that the very organization Mr Tan had led saw fit to pass judgment on his “conduct.”
Additionally, Mr Soh took the opportunity to highlight his achievements, which he believes make him a qualified participant in major sporting events:
- Marathon: Qualified once with a time of 2:22:59 (National Record) against the qualifying mark of 2:23:42 at the 2021 Valencia Marathon.
- 10,000m: Surpassed the qualifying mark of 31:44.14 five times in total – 31:34, 31:28, 31:25, 31:12 (National Record), 31:10 (National Record again).
He emphasized that he became the first Singaporean man to meet the qualifying marks for both the 10,000m and marathon, achieving this feat six times in under two years.
“Yet, despite these credentials, I wasn’t selected by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) for the Asian Games, even after appealing twice. ”
Mr Soh’s spreading positivity and well-wishes to fellow athletes
Despite this setback, Mr Soh expressed his determination to focus on the positives and extended his best wishes to his Singapore Athletics teammates.
“Our nation’s athletics is experiencing a golden era with record-breaking athletes, led by none other than Asian champion Shanti Pereria. Let’s cheer them on in Hangzhou! ”
He also sent his best wishes to all his opponents whom he will not have the chance to compete against, especially the Indonesian team.
“Special shoutout to Agus Prayogo (marathon), Rikki Marthin Luther Simbolon (10,000m) and Robi Syanturi (5,000m), all of whom I had the chance to race back in Cambodia.”
“Best wishes to the Thai distance runner Kieran Tuntivate of the Bowerman Track Club – as a fellow Southeast Asian it’s exciting to watch Thailand have a shot at an Asian Games gold medal in distance running. It looks set to be an exciting 10,000m and 5,000m!”
Soh was excluded from the Asian Games due to social media comments regarding past controversies with Tan Chuan-Jin
Mr Soh was accused of not honouring his commitments to the SNOC, including those made following his participation in the Cambodia 2023 SEA Games.
SNOC provided a 30-page document detailing the problematic posts from March to May 2023, and a six-page document on Mr Soh’s comments made on a podcast by Shasi Kumar, a former professional footballer, as the Straits Times has reported.
He has also previously accused Mr Tan, also a former Army General, of blocking him on various social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, hindering communication and exacerbating their disagreements.
In a Facebook post on his non-selection in 2019, Mr Soh criticized the SNOC and its president, saying, “I’m disappointed that SNOC president Tan Chuan-Jin and his team have chosen to behave in such a petty manner. This is akin to primary school playground politics where kids go, ‘I don’t friend you already!’ just because you say something they don’t like.”
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