Sporting act wins Liew top award

Ashley Liew crossing the finish line in eighth place in 2hr 44min 2sec in last year's SEA Games marathon. He will be honoured at the World Fair Play Awards Ceremony in Budapest on Oct 15.
Ashley Liew crossing the finish line in eighth place in 2hr 44min 2sec in last year's SEA Games marathon. He will be honoured at the World Fair Play Awards Ceremony in Budapest on Oct 15.ST FILE PHOTO

Marathoner slowed when in lead during SEA Games to wait for rivals who took wrong turn

He slowed down and directed his rivals to the correct race route at last year's SEA Games in Singapore.

For that act of sportsmanship, marathoner Ashley Liew has been awarded the International Fair Play Committee's (CIFP) Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy in the category of "Act of Fair Play".

The 29-year-old is the first Singaporean to be recognised with this international award, which honours acts of fair play by sportsmen or teams.

Several prizes for fair play are awarded by CIFP annually across different categories, and the Pierre de Coubertin World Trophy is among the most prestigious.

Past recipients of this trophy include English football icon Stanley Matthews, Swedish tennis great Mats Wilander and Ukraine pole vault legend Sergey Bubka.

At the 2015 SEA Games men's marathon, Liew held a 50m lead after the other 11 runners missed a U-turn and took the wrong route.

NO BIG DEAL

It was done out of instinct and when you follow your heart, you can't go wrong. So I still think it was the right thing to do.

ASHLEY LIEW, Singapore marathoner, who was leading and eventually finished eighth.

Instead of capitalising on his advantage, he slowed down to give his competitors time to catch up. He eventually finished eighth in the 42.195km race, which was won by compatriot Soh Rui Yong.

In a letter signed by CIFP president, Jeno Kamuti, Liew was congratulated for his "remarkable act of fair play".

He will receive his award at the World Fair Play Awards Ceremony in Budapest on Oct 15.

Liew also received a sportsmanship award from the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) at the Singapore Sports Awards in June.

Speaking to The Straits Times yesterday from South Carolina where he is based, he revealed he had just booked his flight to Budapest, and is looking forward to his first visit to the Hungarian capital.

He said: "This was a pleasant surprise, and I'm still processing the news.

"I never expect anything in return when I do things, let alone such a big reward and the chance to go to Budapest."

Even though he did not win the race, Liew does not regret slowing down for his competitors.

"It was done out of instinct and when you follow your heart, you can't go wrong," he added.

"So I still think it was the right thing to do."

SNOC secretary-general Chris Chan congratulated Liew in a statement, saying: "This recognition from the international committee for fair play has demonstrated that Ashley's honest act of sportsmanship has indeed struck a chord with not only Singaporeans, but also with like-minded individuals internationally.

"We hope values and acts of sportsmanship will continue to thrive in our community."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2016, with the headline 'Sporting act wins Liew top award'. Print Edition | Subscribe