SINGAPORE: At the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2023 held on Sunday (3 Dec), Singaporean long-distance runner Soh Rui Yong secured his fourth national title.
Clocking an impressive time of 2 hours, 40 minutes, and 34 seconds, Mr Soh pocketed S$10,000 as the fastest local runner, outpacing competitors Daniel Leow (2:48:08) and Benjamin Khoo (2:50:37).
He had previously clinched a hat-trick of wins from 2017 to 2019 before the event was excluded from the 2022 edition, held virtually in 2020, and adopted a hybrid format in 2021 due to the global pandemic.
The 32-year-old, who secured SEA Games marathon gold in 2015 and 2017, had last participated in a marathon in Valencia in 2021, setting the national record at 2:22:59.
At the National Stadium, Soh finished 15th in the men’s race, dominated by Kenyan David Barmasai Tumo with a time of 2:14:15.
Reflecting on his victory, Soh expressed, “It is a nice feeling to be the national champion again. It has not happened in four years, and I have not run a marathon in two years, so to make a comeback in Singapore is very nice.”
While acknowledging that he is not yet in his optimal marathon form, Soh hinted at the possibility of competing in the marathon at the upcoming SEA Games in Thailand in 2025, adding, “If I get selected.”
Soh Rui Yong’s challenges on the road to international competitions
However, Soh’s journey to reclaim his spot in international competitions has been marred by challenges.
Notably, he was not selected for the SEA Games in 2019 and 2022 following disputes with the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC).
He was also initially excluded from the 2023 edition in Cambodia but his appeal was approved by a special appeals committee in late March.
Although he did not qualify for the marathon, he showcased his prowess by securing a silver medal in the 10,000m and finishing fourth in the 5,000m at the Phnom Penh Games in Cambodia.
Absences from Asian Games 2023
In June, Soh faced another setback as he was excluded from the Hangzhou Asian Games lineup due to alleged failure to “honour commitments” made to the SNOC.
A spokesman told The Straits Times (ST) that Soh had failed to “honour commitments which he had provided to the SNOC, including on occasions following his participation at the Cambodia 2023 SEA Games.”
“Mr Soh continued to make disparaging and derisive remarks about others in the public domain,” the spokesman added.
“This behaviour does not commensurate with his apology given, undermines the sincerity of his commitment to avoid posting controversial content on social media, and renders his assurance to conduct himself in a more constructive, mature and professional manner hollow.”
According to ST, the SNOC had forwarded two documents to Singapore Athletics (SA).
One document, comprising 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.
Some of the comments were connected to a public dispute with former teammate Ashley Liew that lasted from 2018 to 2022. This dispute resulted in a legal battle, and Soh was unsuccessful in both a defamation suit and the subsequent appeal.
Others revolve around his remarks on social media platforms, including an incident on Instagram. In this instance, Soh shared a picture taken with Titus Low, who faced legal consequences in 2022 for distributing explicit content on the adult site OnlyFans.
In response to a playful comment remarking that Soh’s journey on OnlyFans had begun – Soh said “come bro threesome.”
Preparing for the next challenges and goal
Currently, Soh plans to return to England, where he is pursuing a law degree at University College London, and will prepare for his next challenge, the London Marathon in April.
Looking ahead, he expressed ambitious aspirations, stating, “My eventual goal is to try and push the Singapore record to below 2 hours 20 minutes. I think it’s possible.”
Moreover, Yee Jenn Jong, a Workers’ Party member, shared an encounter with Soh Rui Yong in a Facebook post while visiting Hainan Village Market and Marine Parade Central on Sunday.
He mentioned in the caption, “Upon receiving a tip that a man had the S$10,000 winner’s cheque for the Stanchart marathon at a ramen shop in Marine Parade, I couldn’t help but think it could only be Soh Rui Yong（苏睿勇）. I decided to check it out, and indeed, it was him.”
He expressed his pleasure at reconnecting with Soh Rui Yong during his brief visit back from the UK.
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