Athletics: No PB but SEA Games champion Soh Rui Yong is cheered by time in half marathon

Reigning SEA Games marathon champion Soh Rui Yong completing the Kagawa Marugame Half Marathon yesterday in 1:07:53, even though he was hampered by knee and foot injuries.
Reigning SEA Games marathon champion Soh Rui Yong completing the Kagawa Marugame Half Marathon yesterday in 1:07:53, even though he was hampered by knee and foot injuries.PHOTO COURTESY OF SOH RUI YONG

It was not his personal best but SEA Games marathon champion Soh Rui Yong was nonetheless somewhat pleased with his effort at the Kagawa Marugame Half Marathon in Japan yesterday.

After all, his time of 1hr 7min 53sec was well below 1:12:30 - the time set by Singapore Athletics (SA) for him to remain eligible for SEA Games selection.

The 25-year-old had already met the SEA Games qualifying mark - which is the bronze-medal time of 2:37:10 from the 2015 Games - for the 42.195km distance. He clocked 2:24:55 at the Chicago Marathon last October.

But under SA's selection criteria, athletes who qualified between Aug 1 and Dec 31 last year must do a "performance test" in any SA-sanctioned competition from Jan 1 to May 31.

Soh, whose PB for the 21.1km race is 1:07:21 set in 2015, said: "There's nothing really much to celebrate. I just wanted to get this done. It's definitely a relief.

"I've been balancing work with my training sessions, and I'm at 70 per cent of what I used to do. But I'm working towards getting back to 100 per cent load nearer to the SEA Games.

"I've been struggling with two injuries - my right knee and right plantar fasciitis - that have been taking turns to annoy me.

"I knew I couldn't set a PB (personal best), but to be able to come here to run a 67 (minutes) again is quite encouraging."

Soh, an executive at Sport Singapore, will be taking no-pay leave from May to train full time in the United States as part of his preparations for the biennial Games in Kuala Lumpur from Aug 19-31.

If there are more than two men who meet the qualifying mark, SA will nominate the pair with the fastest times to the Singapore National Olympic Council for selection.

The Republic's other leading marathoners, 2013 SEA Games champion Mok Ying Ren, and Ashley Liew, have yet to qualify for the Games.

Mok's next race will be the Seoul International Marathon on March 19, while Liew will run the Tokyo Marathon on Feb 26.

Soh said: "I've done more than what is needed (to qualify for the SEA Games). Even if I don't do any more races before the SEA Games, it's fine.

"I hope to maintain my training load and keep it consistent up to May."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2017, with the headline 'No PB but Soh cheered by time in half marathon'. Print Edition | Subscribe