Soh is nominated for C'wealth Games

Marathoner opted against qualifying but national body endorses him for track record

Less than two months after deciding not to attempt qualification for the Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast, national marathoner Soh Rui Yong revealed yesterday that he has been nominated for consideration to compete in the marathon event at the April 4-15 Games.

Soh, 26, had told The Straits Times in November that he decided against trying to qualify for the quadrennial Games as Singapore Athletics' (SA) delay in publishing a clear track and field selection criteria meant there was insufficient time for preparation.

Qualifying started on April 15 last year and ends on Feb 11, but athletes were informed of the period of the window and selection criteria on SA's website only on Nov 14.

Yesterday, Soh explained that having to train to attempt qualification meant he would have to run two marathons between December and April, and there would not be enough time to train and excel in both.

The two-time SEA Games champion had also competed in the Dec 3 Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, where he was the top local finisher.

Soh had been nominated to the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) by SA president Ho Mun Cheong. Pole vaulter Rachel Yang, who met the Commonwealth Games qualifying height of 3.80 metres last June, was also nominated.

The other names submitted to the SNOC for nomination were SEA Games high jump champion Michelle Sng, national hurdler Ang Chen Xiang, and the men and women's 4x100m relay teams.

Soh said: "I'm happy that Mr Ho believes in me and is willing to give me this opportunity. I think it's good that he has considered the specific nature of the marathon - that it's not just about time.

"I spent my whole 2017 preparing for the SEA Games, which is an important race for SA.

"Mr Ho feels that my track record at the SEA Games (golds in 2015 and 2017) shows that I can perform on the big stage and I'd be happy to test my hand on a bigger stage."

Emphasising that his nomination is still pending approval by the SNOC, Soh said his training will not change between now and the Feb 4 Marugame Half Marathon in Japan.

"That's my season opener and, after that, I will go into more serious training - I just have to decide if it's geared towards full or half marathons," added Soh, who estimates that he will need about eight to 10 weeks to prepare for a marathon at the Commonwealth Games level. "If (the nomination) is approved, I'll do my best to get ready for the Games."

Mok Ying Ren, the 2013 SEA Games men's marathon champion, had in 2014 earned the nod from the SNOC to compete at the Commonwealth Games that year.

Mok did not compete, however, as a shin injury forced him to withdraw from the event.

SA president Ho believes Soh and the other athletes who have been nominated deserve to compete at the Games, but stressed that the decision rests with the SNOC.

He said: "I feel they have the potential to do well, and they can improve by competing with athletes from the other countries."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2018, with the headline 'Soh is nominated for C'wealth Games'. Print Edition | Subscribe