SINGAPORE - Recreational runner Kelvin Ling, who was a spectator at East Coast Park during the 2015 SEA Games marathon final, said in court on Wednesday (Sept 9) that he saw marathoner Ashley Liew "was almost stationary and the turnover of his legs was very slow" after the U-turn incident had occurred.
Ling, who is the plaintiff's witness in Liew's defamation suit against former teammate Soh Rui Yong, was responding to a question from Soh's lawyer, Clarence Lun. Noting that Ling had said Liew was 50 to 80m from him and that there was a significant distinction between the two distances, Lun asked if he was able to really observe that Liew was "running at a pace slower than before".
On the morning of the incident, Ling recalled that race officials had been setting up cones when he had arrived at about 6am, and noted that they were "not very visible compared to the other races I've participated in".
Lun asked: "When you communicated the potential issues to the officials, what did they do?" Ling replied that "we were told to keep quiet because the runners had been briefed of their route".
Ling said that Soh had been in the first group of runners approaching him, and Liew was in the second group. Ling said he saw Liew make the correct turn at the U-turn point, after which the latter "accelerated and just went on at a normal pace".
Lun later referred to Ling's affidavit in which he said Liew was running at a pace "much slower than before" and with "significantly reduced cadence", and asked Ling to elaborate.
He replied: "(For) cadence I'm talking about how fast he's turning over his legs. From my point of view, the turnover wasn't that fast and it was as if he's just bouncing up and down and not moving away from me."
Soh's lawyer then asked if Ling's visibility would have been affected by darkness (at the race location) and confusion over the events that had unfolded before him.
"What I saw was the plaintiff slowing down with reduced turnover. My state of mind, I cannot recall," replied Ling.
Noting that Ling had said in his affidavit that he was confused, Lun asked what he was confused about.
"I was confused because Ashley seemed like he was slowing down from his reduced cadence ... a thought just came to me that he might be injured," said the witness.
This U-turn incident at the SEA Games marathon was what sparked the dispute between Soh and Liew in October 2018, when the former in a Facebook post accused Liew of lying about the incident. Liew said he had slowed down to allow other runners to catch up after they missed the U-turn and took the wrong path.
Back on the stand in the afternoon, Liew said he was "caught by surprise because there was no animosity between us at that point". He was responding to Lun's question on whether Soh's comment (in October 2018) was made in reaction to the International Fair Play Committee's (IFPC) social media post on Oct 13, 2018. The IFPC had awarded Liew the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy in September 2016 for his actions.
Lun said: "I put it to you there's only one reason - my client's conscience was pricked... there needs to be his side of the story of what happened."
Liew, who is represented by Mark Teng of That.Legal LLC, replied: "I cannot speak for his conscience being pricked."
The sixth day of the civil suit continues on Thursday, with the fourth and final plaintiff's witness, Quek Chiu Lian, to take the stand. Soh is expected to testify on Friday.