Local runner Soh Rui Yong has become the first marathoner to win The Straits Times' Star of the Month accolade, taking home the gong for the month of December.
The 23-year-old was honoured for his effort at the California International Marathon, where he clocked 2hr 26min 1sec, the fastest time recorded since Murugiah Rameshon set the national record of 2:24:22 in 1995.
The award is an extension of ST's Athlete of the Year award, launched in 2008. Both awards are backed by F&N's 100Plus.
While he already holds the national record over 10km and has also represented Singapore at the World Half-Marathon Championships, it was just Soh's first attempt at completing 42.195km. His effort qualifies him for June's SEA Games on home soil.
Said Soh, who is currently based in the United States where he is a business administration undergraduate at the University of Oregon: "At the start of 2014, I told myself that my goal was to qualify for the SEA Games in any event that I could, so it was definitely an added motivation.
"As the race drew closer, I felt I could run close to a 2:28 if I raced well. I told myself to stay disciplined, run my own race, get to the 32km mark relaxed, then worry about the last 10km."
Soh will be deferring his studies for a term in March to focus on training for the SEA Games.