Athletics: Soh completes London Marathon but misses Rio mark

Injured since November, Soh Rui Yong continues his Olympic quest and makes inroads by completing the London Marathon.
Injured since November, Soh Rui Yong continues his Olympic quest and makes inroads by completing the London Marathon. PHOTO: SOH RUI YONG'S FACEBOOK

With a heavily-taped foot and steely determination, national marathoner Soh Rui Yong gave Olympic qualification another go yesterday at the London Marathon.

But the 24-year-old fell short, clocking 2hr 37min 33sec, off the 2:19 required to meet the qualifying mark for this August's Olympic Games.

It was also off his personal best of 2:26:01, clocked on his marathon debut at the 2014 California International Marathon.

While the 2015 SEA Games champion had posted a steady pace until the halfway mark - and even looked possible at breaking Murugiah Rameshon's 1995 national record (2:24:22) - the tail end of the race became a struggle for Soh.

Split times showed that he started to slow down significantly at the 35km mark, and with a little over 2km left to go, Soh was taking close to five minutes for each kilometre.

NO PAIN, NO GAIN

My foot felt great actually, and I'm happy about that. I ran a full marathon as opposed to a half, and I think that's a big step forward.

SOH RUI YONG, on completing the London Marathon despite nursing a plantar fasciitis injury which he aggravated at last month's World Half Marathon Championships.

Describing the race as "brutal" due to the chilly conditions, Soh remained cheerful after the race.

Speaking to The Straits Times in a phone interview while ordering a burger, fries and beer for his post-run meal, he said a lack of training over the past month simply translated into a lack of fitness.

"I was on pace at the 32km mark to run a 2:22, which would have been a national record, but every thing went wrong in the last 10km.

"Cramps started to shoot up my legs, maybe due to the fact that I haven't been running a lot in the last month and a sudden 42km is a big shock to the body.

"I started to have 'white vision', and couldn't run in a straight line. That's the first time that it's happened to me in a race."

Soh posted a race he was satisfied with at the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff, Wales last month, finishing in 1:07:56.

But that season-best result came at a cost, aggravating a plantar fasciitis injury - tissue inflammation at the bottom of the foot - he had picked up last November.

The University of Oregon graduate went from limping to slow jogging before resuming full workouts only a fortnight ago.

Soh, who also holds the national record in the 10,000m, said his foot fared well in his race yesterday.

He said: "My foot felt great actually, and I'm happy about that. I ran a full marathon as opposed to a half, and I think that's a big step forward."

A short break and a "wait and see" approach is up next for Soh, who will return to Eugene in Oregon to train.

He is mulling over registering for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon in July - just before the qualifying window closes - for another attempt at Olympic qualification.

"It's a possibility. It depends on how much I'll need to rest," he said.

Fellow marathoner Mok Ying Ren, winner at the 2013 SEA Games, is also gunning for a berth at the Rio Olympics. He is currently based at the Boulder Track Club in Colorado.


May Chen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2016, with the headline 'Soh completes London Marathon but misses Rio mark'. Print Edition | Subscribe