Gold Medallist Soh Rui Yong Is Coaching Gordon Lim For 2019 SEA Games Marathon

If you can’t represent Singapore, you can still help contribute to her victory on international platforms.

That pretty much sums up national runner Soh Rui Yong’s motto when he announced that he’ll be volunteering his time to coach the athlete chosen to participate in the upcoming SEA Games marathon.

Soh shared the news on Facebook on Tuesday (1 Oct), saying that he’ll be coaching Gordon Lim, one of the 2 runners Singapore Athletics (SA) had selected to run for the nation at the regional games.

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As it turns out, this surprising turn of events happened because both Soh, 28, and Lim, 27, have been good friends since May — way before the SA legal saga started.

Soh Rui Yong has been coaching Lim since May

Speaking to MS News, Soh related that he and Lim first got to know each other way back in May. They’ve seen each other running around the same neighbourhood in Bedok Reservoir.

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After a few times of bumping into him, Soh decided to strike up a chat with him, and got to learn more of Lim’s background story and what he wants to do in life.

Soh eventually invited him over to his own training sessions, so Lim could learn new techniques to boost performance.

Lim’s turn to shine during Australia marathon

In Jun, Lim mentioned that he would be racing in Australia’s Sunshine Coast Marathon in Aug, though he was going to go in with “not much expectations”.

Soh shared,

Before Sunshine Coast, he had only ran 1 marathon previously, so he wasn’t prepared enough. After reaching the 32km mark in that marathon, it took him forever to complete the last 10km.

Much to both their surprise, Lim swiftly completed his second marathon – the 42km Sunshine Coast Marathon – in 2 hours 37 minutes.

Gordon Lim’s run time (right) captured in an official photo from Sunshine Coast Marathon
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His 2:37:16 performance ranked him as 3rd fastest Singaporean for the marathon in the year 2019.

This is behind only Soh Rui Yong’s 2:23:42 performance in Seoul in Mar, as well as Alvin Loh’s 2:37:08, also at Sunshine Coast. Soh added,

I think [Gordon] trained on his own very well. I wasn’t governing his training 100% at that time.

Thanks to Lim’s excellent timing, SA took notice of his achievements and shortlisted him to represent Singapore in the 2019 SEA Games marathon.

Chosen to run in 2019 SEA Games marathon

As we all know now, Lim was eventually chosen to run for the nation.

“[Gordon] messaged me one day, saying he got selected for the SEA Games but he’s not sure what to do,” Soh told MS News.

I told him to go for it because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I said I’d be happy to coach him, and we both were like, “let’s do it”.

Lim then wrote to SA formally introducing Soh as his coach for the marathon training. Asked about SA’s response upon finding out, Soh merely chuckled and said “they didn’t reply”.

Racing against time to coach Lim in 2 months

Asked again if he was coaching for free, Soh answered yes, as there was only 2 months left for the both of them to train together. The games is due to take place in the Philippines on 5 Dec.

Countdown to the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines
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Soh decided to volunteer his time to help Lim, as the latter didn’t expect to be selected.

“It’s not everyday you get to represent Singapore, so I want to help him have a good experience by being fit and ready,” he said.

Lim and Soh running together
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As Soh runs with Lim on a regular basis, this allows Soh to understand Lim’s strengths and weaknesses better. This would surely make it easier for both of them to work together.

Even if I don’t get to represent the country, the least I can do is to leverage my experience I’ve gained from running in 2 SEA Games so that he can represent Singapore well.

Team Singapore spirit, y’all.

Competing together, not against one another

Even though embattled by the SA saga, Soh willingly took the time off to coach Lim. What is more, he was supposed to be running in Lim’s place, not the other way around.

That just goes to show the true spirit of athleticism of Soh. Even though he cannot participate in the SEA Games himself, he is putting the country, the sport and his fellow runners first.

All the best to Lim at the upcoming SEA Games, and kudos to Soh for being the better man and choosing to coach Lim instead of just turning his back on Singapore’s athletics.

Disclosure: Mr Soh is an employee of The Smart Local, an affiliated company of MS News.

Featured image adapted from Soh Rui Yong on Facebook, and PhilStar Global.