Mok gets all-clear to chase Rio dream


Marathoner will resume training next week after treatment for a freak eye accident

After a freak training accident which left him temporarily blinded in one eye, it is all systems go for Singapore marathoner Mok Ying Ren as he resumes training next week.

Aiming to qualify for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next year, he suffered a partial retina tear in his right eye last month after an elastic band he was using for stretching slipped off his foot and hit him square in the eyes.

The Oct 10 accident, which occurred while he was training in the United States, caused a loss of vision in the right eye that lasted several hours. He also lost partial vision in his left eye temporarily.

To make matters worse, instead of seeking treatment immediately, he went for a 40-minute run hoping his vision would return.

But last Friday, the 2013 SEA Games marathon champion, who returned to Singapore to seek further treatment, received the all-clear to resume full training in two weeks.


As athletes, we are so competitive and stubborn that sometimes we don't see the bigger picture. It takes stuff like this to wake you up. 

MOK YING REN, on his eye injury

This, after undergoing cryotherapy, a procedure which induces scarring to prevent the retina from tearing further.

Yesterday, Mok told The Straits Times: "I'm excited to be able to start running again, and I feel really fortunate and grateful for the healthcare system in Singapore.

"I'll slowly ease back into full training and, hopefully, this is just a minor speed bump in the grand scheme of things."

The 27-year-old said he had been working on an exercise bicycle since the accident to keep his fitness levels up, and had gone for a light run yesterday.

Dr Nikolle Tan, an ophthalmologist who performed the procedure on Mok, said the initial signs are positive but added: "It needs to be followed up.

"I wouldn't say that he is out of the woods completely but I am optimistic. If this is stable for two to three months, he should be more or less okay."

Mok, an orthopaedic surgery resident, said he will compete in two meets in Japan later his month - a 5km race and a 10km event - before returning to the US.

There, he will resume high-altitude training at the Boulder Track Club in Colorado, under Australian coach Lee Troop, a three-time Olympian. He is expected to remain in the US till June.

Mok's personal best time in the marathon is 2hr 26min 30sec while the Olympic qualifying mark is 2:17.

The athlete, who had put his medical career on hold to pursue his Olympic dream, said the latest saga will toughen him up mentally.

"As athletes, we are so competitive and stubborn that sometimes we don't see the bigger picture," said Mok, who is also the 2007 SEA Games triathlon champion.

"It takes stuff like this to wake you up.

"When I encounter bigger setbacks in the future, I can draw from the lessons from this experience."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2015, with the headline 'MOK GETS ALL-CLEAR TO CHASE RIO DREAM'. Print Edition | Subscribe