National athlete Soh Rui Yong says he retained his SEA Games marathon gold "without any coaching help" from Singapore Athletics (SA) ahead of last month's biennial event in Kuala Lumpur.
That is one of the reasons the 26-year-old is chafing at having to donate $2,000 to SA, which governs local track and field.
He told The Straits Times (ST) yesterday: "As a marathon runner who has now won the (SEA Games) gold twice, I have done it without any coaching help from SA. I'd rather the $2,000 go to my coach (American Ben Rosario), who has helped me way more than most SA administrators have."
"The bulk of public funding I received to train for the SEA Games came from the SSI (Singapore Sports Institute), not SA."
As an individual SEA Games champion, he will receive $10,000 under the Multi-Million Dollar Award Programme (MAP), which provides a cash payout to athletes who win medals at the Olympic, Asian, Commonwealth and SEA Games. For the Olympic, Asian and SEA Games, they have to donate 20 per cent of the MAP awards to their respective federations for future training and development. The quantum for the Commonwealth Games is 50 per cent.
Soh estimates that he forked out over $2,000 of his own money to train for the SEA Games.
One other grouse is the infighting that plagued the local athletics fraternity over the past year. Soh pointed out: "SA should be supporting athletes morally as well."
SA president Ho Mun Cheong does not object to allowing Soh to retain the entire sum as long as the relevant authorities are in agreement. But he insisted that SA has been funding its athletes.
Soh is slated to receive a $1,200 monthly allowance from the association this year in quarterly disbursements. The sum adds up to $10,800 for the year so far. To date, Soh has received $7,200 from SA this year. ST understands that SA has also disbursed at least $50,000 over the past three years to Soh and his former coach Ian Dobson.
Ho said: "We always support all our athletes as we want them to get exposure and good competition experience, and to encourage youth development."
Correction note: This story has been edited to clarify that Soh is slated to receive a $1,200 monthly allowance from Singapore Athletics (SA) this year in quarterly disbursements. The sum adds up to $10,800 for the year so far. To date, Soh has received $7,200 from SA this year.