SEA Games: Soh Rui Yong plans to deliver aid to local athlete

SEA Games marathon champion Soh Rui Yong wants to share part of his MAP awards with 400m runner Reyhan Amierul.
SEA Games marathon champion Soh Rui Yong wants to share part of his MAP awards with 400m runner Reyhan Amierul.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

The name Reyhan Amierul may not ring a bell with the wider public but the tale of a local athlete struggling to find financial support resonates strongly with national marathoner Soh Rui Yong.

It is why the SEA Games champion, who retained his gold medal in Kuala Lumpur in August, is keen to use part of the $10,000 he won under the Multi-Million Dollar Awards Programme (MAP) yesterday to help Reyhan.

The 22-year-old, a 400m specialist, is a chemical and biomolecular engineering undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University.

Soh said: "On Tuesday, I finished my workout and went for dinner. I saw Reyhan in the gym before I left. An hour an a half later, I saw him walking into the restaurant but he was there to pick up food (to deliver).

"After training, this guy has to get on his motorbike, ride around Singapore delivering food. He's been doing this for a while because he needs money for school and for training. I was quite moved as this guy is so motivated and independent.

"It's not the best way to recover from training by riding around in a motorbike. Athletes like that are definitely the ones I want to support and I hope the association can support as well."

The 26-year-old added that he will decide how he can help Reyhan after using the MAP prize money to offset his own training costs.

Last month, Soh protested against donating 20 per cent of his winnings to Singapore Athletics (SA). SEA Games champions are required to donate a fifth of their MAP awards to their national sports associations for future training and development.

He had felt the SA, plagued by infighting, was undeserving of the money, but he has since relented albeit under protest.

While he might be a divisive figure given his outspoken nature, Soh was in demand yesterday, with a number of national athletes requesting wefies with him.

The Sport Singapore (SportSG) executive added he would continue to fight for his fellow athletes.

He said: "It's very simple, whatever I say as an athlete, I say as an athlete. It has nothing to do with my role in my day job... My experience as an athlete puts me in a better position to serve SportSG because I have the athletes' perspective and I'm fortunate to work in an industry that I have a passion for."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2017, with the headline 'Soh plans to deliver aid to local athlete'. Print Edition | Subscribe