SEA Games: Marathoner Soh Rui Yong won't appeal exclusion, vows to do 'self reflecting'

This is the second consecutive Games that Soh Rui Yong has been dropped despite meeting the qualification mark on both occasions. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Soh Rui Yong said on Thursday (Feb 17) he would not appeal against his exclusion from the Singapore contingent at the Hanoi SEA Games in May, and vowed to do some self reflection to avoid future selection controversies.

The Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) had announced on Wednesday night that the 30-year-old, who had won marathon gold at back to back SEA Games in 2015 and 2017, would not travel to Vietnam.

This is the second consecutive Games that Soh has been dropped despite comfortably meeting the qualification mark on both occasions.

The SNOC said Soh's conduct "fell short of the standards of attitude and behaviour [it] expects of and holds its athletes to", which was also its explanation for omitting Soh for the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines.

While Soh could appeal this latest decision, after consulting with Singapore Athletics (SA) president Lien Choong Luen, he opted not to.

Soh, who is in London where he is pursuing a law degree,  said: “I understand that SNOC has some issues with the way I’ve used social media over the last two years.

"I'll do some self reflecting and figure out how we can avoid any more controversies at the next major Games selection."

He said he was grateful to Lien, who had "gone to bat for me on numerous instances" for the Hanoi Games selection.

Lien, the general manager of ride-hailing firm Gojek, said he was hopeful Soh will be considered for future major Games.

Soh has met the qualifying standard for the marathon at September's Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, the first Singaporean to do so.

Lien said: "While the outcome of Rui Yong's nomination did not land as we had hoped, we understand and stand by SNOC's decision and we will not be appealing for the Vietnam SEA Games.

"Looking forward, we are still committed to working with Rui Yong and SNOC to try for future major competitions."

Soh has clashed with the SNOC on a number of occasions leading up to his first exclusion.

These include issues such as the athlete's breach of regulations regarding the promotion of personal sponsors at the 2017 SEA Games and later, his initial objection to its mandatory requirement to donate 20 per cent of his $10,000 cash payout as reward for his win back to SA for training and development.

On Wednesday, an SNOC spokesman said that "since then, Soh's conduct and behaviour has continued to fall short" of standards it expects.

"There has been no attempt by him to make amends, correct or apologise for his conduct and behaviour," added the spokesman.

"Instead, there have been continued and persistent actions by Soh to challenge, mock, threaten and/or disrespect organisations and individuals including the SNOC.

"The SNOC views such conduct and behaviour as unbecoming of an athlete that wishes to be selected to represent his country at major Games, and as contrary to the... requirement of the Olympic Charter."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.