SINGAPORE - Hampered for months by a niggling foot injury and only running pain-free in the last three days, national marathoner Soh Rui Yong has decided to give the Gold Coast Airport Marathon a miss in the first week of July.
The Gold Coast event would have been his last shot at trying to qualify for the Aug 5-21 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, before the qualifying window closes on July 11.
Speaking to the media from Oregon where he is currently training, he said he has made significant progress in recovery after working with his coach Ian Dobson and massage therapist Chris Whetstine for the past month.
Said Soh, who picked up a plantar fasciitis injury - tissue inflammation at the bottom of the foot - in November last year: "I've made more progress in one month (working with Chris) than the last half year combined. It's a good step forward.
"But I've discussed with my coach and physio and we find that until my foot condition stabilises, we don't want to take the risk of putting it through another marathon. I took this amount of time to get back to pain-free running and I don't want to jeopardise that."
But the 24-year-old said this does not end his bid to make his debut at the Olympic Games, even if it now makes him another athlete in the wildcard debate. He said he intends to use the time from now until the Olympics to be as prepared as he can be should he be called up for the wildcard.
Singapore is entitled to send one track and field athlete should no one make it based on merit. With no male athlete having made the mark so far, it means one wildcard remains available.
Singapore Athletics (SA) has a published set of criteria in selecting the athlete should it utilise the wildcard, putting a priority on athletes who have set new national records (in order of margin of record broken) within the qualifying window.
Soh, the only male gold medallist in track and field at last year's SEA Games, had his criticism for this criteria. He said: "The way the wildcard is being used is completely senseless. We have many national record setters but only a few SEA Games gold medallists over the last 10 or 20 years. The whole thing is just a mess.
"Having the SA elections held before the wildcard selection is finalised also makes things complicated."