Singapore marathoner Mok Ying Ren was unable to build on the momentum generated by his national half-marathon mark set in January as he logged a disappointing run at the Lake Biwa Marathon yesterday.
According to a post on Mok's Instagram account, he timed 2hr 35min at the race in Kyoto. It was off his personal best of 2:26:30, set at the 2013 Gold Coast Marathon.
He is attempting to qualify for the Rio Olympics. To do so, he needs to clock 2:19 before July 11.
Yesterday, he told The Straits Times: "It's quite disappointing because I thought I was in good shape heading into the race, especially after the half-marathon mark.
"I had been training well and was expecting a good time. I was 1hr 11min at the halfway point, but it got brutal in the last 10km. There was a headwind and at one point, I even felt like stopping."
Mok had arrived in Japan on Thursday and said his poor run could also be down to jet lag. He had been undergoing high-altitude training at the Boulder Track Club in Colorado, under Australian Lee Troop, a three-time Olympian.
Said Mok: "It's not good but I'll try not to dwell on this. One thing I'm trying to learn from the elite runners is to not get too affected by bad times. There are always good and bad races."
The two-time SEA Games gold medallist will head back to Colorado after a week's rest but did not say which marathon he will run in next.
Mok, together with Soh Rui Yong - who is also attempting to qualify for Rio - had been pencilled in for the World Half Marathon Championships at the end of the month.
But the March 26 showdown in Cardiff between Soh, the fastest active local marathoner with a personal best of 2:26:01, and Mok is unlikely to materialise. The latter said on Friday that the short recovery time after yesterday's race plus the late invitation would make it difficult for him to compete in Wales.
Soh is also training at high altitude, albeit at the High Altitude Training Centre in Iten, Kenya. The 2015 SEA Games marathon champion has earmarked next month's London Marathon as his qualifying race.