Soh Rui Yong Not Selected To Represent Singapore In Upcoming SEA Games
While many eyes are on the world-class athletes competing at the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 now, our own athletes are gearing up for the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
However, one notable marathon runner, Soh Rui Yong, will not participate in the games in May.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday (16 Feb), he shares that the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) decided to omit him despite his stellar marathon timing.
The national runner also denied the allegations made by SNOC regarding his non-efforts in making amends after previous disputes, and apologised for inconveniences that arose from his past actions.
Soh excluded from SEA Games due to ‘Unbecoming Behaviour’
On Wednesday (16 Feb), the SNOC announced the 330 athletes competing across 29 sports in the biennial SEA Games.
But Singapore’s top national marathon runner Soh Rui Yong was not on the list for the second time running.
Previously in 2019, Soh was also omitted from the SEA Games contingent despite meeting the qualification mark.
Speaking to The Straits Times (ST), an SNOC spokesperson said the council rejected the Singapore Athletics’ (SA) nomination of Soh.
This was attributed to his conduct, which “fell short of the standards of attitude and behaviour” SNOC expects of athletes—the same reason given for his 2019 omission.
Since then, the spokesperson said Soh’s conduct and behaviour continued to fall short of those standards.
They added that Soh has made “no attempt” to make amends, correct, or apologise for his conduct and behaviour.
The spokesperson said he has instead made “continued and persistent actions” to challenge, mock, threaten, and/or disrespect organisations and individuals, including SNOC.
SNOC views this as an unbecoming behaviour of an athlete hoping to represent Singapore at the SEA Games.
Soh denies SNOC’s allegations
In response to SNOC, Soh made a statement on Facebook on Wednesday (16 Feb).
He shared that he was once again not selected, although he finished with a timing of 2:22:59 in the qualifying window, setting a new national record.
His timing is more than 10 minutes faster than the qualifying mark set by SNOC.
Soh asserts that his “objective track record speaks for itself”, having won 2 gold medals at the 2 SEA Games Marathons he participated in.
He noted that SNOC’s claims that he made no effort at making amends are “categorically false and border on defamation”.
In his post, Soh also revealed that the President of SNOC, Tan Chuan-Jin, had blocked him on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
While this is within his rights, the national runner said it’s challenging to resolve disputes when the SNOC leader himself is not open to communication.
Soh happy to make amends
Soh shared that he had met with Minister for Culture, Community and Youth of Singapore Edwin Tong in January.
During their meeting, Minister Tong kindly offered help to mediate between him and SNOC. While Soh was unsure of the developments following their meeting, he thanked the minister for his efforts.
Concluding his post, Soh said he wants to make it clear to SNOC and the public that for him, past disputes are bygones and no longer important.
He was happy to make amends and resolve matters but stressed that SNOC had to reciprocate too.
On his part, Soh apologised for any inconveniences that arose from his past actions and that this would cause Singapore to miss out on a marathon gold medal.
He then wishes luck to the rest of Team Singapore competing in Vietnam in May.
Clashes between Soh Rui Yong & SNOC since 2017
Since 2017, Soh has clashed several times with SNOC. The issues between the council and him were:
- Soh received a formal warning from SNOC due to infringement of regulations in the 2017 SEA Games promotion of personal sponsors
- Soh protested to donating 20% of his SNOC reward payout to SA for training and development
- A longstanding dispute between Soh and national marathoner Ashley Liew
- Soh filed a defamation suit against SA and former official after omission from the 2019 SEA Games
Currently, Soh’s case against Liew is under appeal, and his proceedings against the formal official are still before the courts, reported ST.
Hope SNOC remains objective in vetting athletes
Soh’s determination to speak up for what he believes in has put his career under the spotlight many times.
While his courage is admirable, the SNOC also holds all athletes to a certain standard.
Hopefully, both parties will be able to resolve any differences amicably, so Singapore will have a reputable athlete representing us, and Soh can have his chance at triumphing at his sport.
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Featured image adapted from Soh Rui Yong on Facebook.
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