Soh Rui Yong's bid to become Singapore's first Olympic marathoner received a boost last week when he signed an agreement with media and sponsorship consultancy Black Dot. The latter will help him source funds, freeing up the runner's time so he can focus on his Olympic dream.
The consultancy, which is confident of raising the $20,000 that he needs, will be paying him a monthly advance that will be deducted from any funds raised. If more is raised, it would allow him to go for more training stints.
"Having an agent will allow me to (use) the time I've been spending on sponsorship issues (a couple of hours every day) for training, rest and the other little things I can do to be a better runner," Soh, 24, said yesterday. "(The advance) provides me with the security to carry out most of my training plans."
The University of Oregon student, who will train full-time after graduating next month, had previously said he needs at least $20,000 for airfare, accommodation and race registration fees. In June, he won the SEA Games gold in only his second marathon.
Black Dot executive director Nicholas Fang, a former national fencer, said: "Having a local marathoner qualify by right would be a great achievement for Singapore, and a (boost) for all Singapore marathoners. We should do all we can to help, and we hope this gives him peace of mind and the confidence to train during this crunch period."
Next up for Soh, who holds both the national 10km and half-marathon marks, is the Fukuoka International Open Marathon Championship next month. It will be the third marathon of his career.
There, he will be racing in a competitive field that includes Kenya's world record-holder Dennis Kimetto and former world record-holder Patrick Makau.
Singapore's fastest active marathoner, who completed a 40-day high-altitude training stint in Arizona in September, has his sights set on at least a personal best time.
Soh's PB is 2hr 26min 1sec, set last December at the California International Marathon, his first 42.195km race.
The national record stands at 2:24:22, set by Murugiah Rameshon in 1995, while the Olympic qualifying mark is 2:17.
Said Soh: "The high-altitude training really helped. I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life."