Athletics: Setback for Mok Ying Ren's Rio Olympics dream after freak training accident

Singapore marathoner Mok Ying Ren wearing a patch to protect his injured eye. He suffered the injury while stretching with an elastic band which slipped off his foot and hit him square in the eyes.
Singapore marathoner Mok Ying Ren wearing a patch to protect his injured eye. He suffered the injury while stretching with an elastic band which slipped off his foot and hit him square in the eyes.PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/MOKYINGREN

Freak eye injury during training causes major delay in marathon runner's training schedule

Singapore marathoner Mok Ying Ren's hopes of qualifying for next year's Olympics have been dealt a blow after a freak training accident on Oct 10.

The 2013 SEA Games marathon champion, who was training in Colorado, was stretching with an elastic band when it slipped off his foot and hit him square in the eyes.

The impact was so great that it caused a partial tear in his right retina and he will be out of action until the middle of next month.

FOCUSING ON RECOVERY

Things happen, and for now I'm focused on resting and making a full recovery.

MOK YING REN

In the immediate aftermath, he lost partial vision in his left eye temporarily, while he could not see with his right eye for several hours.

The injury required a laser procedure on the right eye, and he was advised by his ophthalmologist to rest for a month at least.

Yesterday, Mok told The Straits Times: "The doctor said I should not move my eye too much or it might cause the retina to detach.

"It's disappointing, and disrupts my training plans. I was supposed to fly to Japan tomorrow and spend a month there racing .

"When the doctor told me I should not run for a month, I had difficulty trying to reconcile that.

"But I should obey the doctor's orders, even though time is of the essence."

Mok, an orthopaedic surgery resident, also regrets letting his competitive spirit get to him.

Instead of going to the hospital immediately after the accident, he first went on a 40-minute run hoping his eyesight would return.

He said: "My priorities were a bit wrong. Running is for now, but losing my vision could affect my career. I should not have gone for a run."

The 27-year-old will return to Singapore tonight for further treatment and monitoring.

He hopes to be able to resume training by the middle of next month.

A two-time SEA Games gold medallist, Mok has had his fair share of injury woes in recent years.

A shin injury caused him to miss the Glasgow Commonwealth Games last July. He would have been Singapore's first male marathoner at the quadrennial meet.

The 2007 SEA Games triathlon gold medallist made his comeback at last December's Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore, but unfortunately hurt his left gluteal muscle.

It forced him to miss June's SEA Games, and with it, a chance to defend his marathon title on home soil.

His comeback race was the San Jose Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon last month, where he timed a creditable 1hr 8min 22sec - just off his personal best of 1:07:29.

But Mok is choosing to take the latest setback positively, as he returns to the comfort of home, and the support of his family and fiancee.

"Many things could have gone wrong. I was lucky that the tear was not in my visual field," he said.

"Things happen, and for now I'm focused on resting and making a full recovery."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2015, with the headline 'Setback for Mok's Rio dream'. Print Edition | Subscribe