Athletics: Soh Rui Yong claims national marathon mark, Singapore Athletics seeks clarity with IAAF

Soh Rui Yong
Soh Rui Yong
Murugiah Rameshon
Murugiah Rameshon

Confusion over the national men's marathon record erupted yesterday, after SEA Games champion Soh Rui Yong claimed his time of 2hr 24min 55sec had been recognised as the official mark by the Association of Road Racing Statisticians (ARRS).

Currently, the national record for the men's marathon, as recognised by Singapore Athletics (SA), is 2:24:22. It was clocked by Murugiah Rameshon at the 1995 SEA Games in Chiang Mai.

Soh has based his claim on his belief that the marathon course in Thailand was not certified by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the sport's world body.

The 25-year-old also believes it could have been shorter than 42.195km, saying that the top five finishers all broke their personal bests, which is "unheard of".

In the meantime, SA is consulting the IAAF on which time should be recognised as the national record.

Said SA's vice-president (training and selection) Govindasamy Balasekaran: "We'll have to look at the paperwork to establish what happens. This will take some time."

SA president Ho Mun Cheong agreed, adding: "If the IAAF says we should change it, then we will accept its advice."

According to the ARRS' website, it "focuses on elite distance running at distances 3,000m and longer". It states that its statistics obtained are generated from a database comprising more than 900,000 performances from over 160,000 races run by more than 35,000 elite distance runners worldwide.

  • 33sec Difference between the official Singapore marathon record of 2:24:22 (Murugiah Rameshon), which Soh Rui Yong claims was not set on an IAAF-certified course, and his personal best of 2:24:55.

It also states that: "This database has been created entirely thru (sic) volunteer efforts. Many hundreds of people have contributed race results and other useful information over a period of many years. Some of these people have spent a great deal of time vetting the information in this database, correcting errors, adding missing information, and providing ancillary information."

Rameshon, 52, is unperturbed by Soh's bid to have him removed as the record holder. He said: "SA should go and do the investigation, and I will respect its decision because it's the authority."

While Soh said he was glad his effort - clocked at the Chicago Marathon last October - was deemed the national record by an international organisation, he admitted the feeling was "bittersweet".

Rameshon was his first coach, and Soh added: "I do respect what he has done as a runner, and this doesn't take anything away from what he did.

"I hope to lower it (his timing) to below 2:20 before my career is over."

The SportSingapore executive told ST he will attempt the feat in Japan next February. But for now, his immediate focus is on retaining his SEA Games title.

Soh's time at the Chicago Marathon was well under the Games' qualifying mark of 2:37:10 (2015 third-place time), and he posted 1:07:53 at the Kagawa Marugame Half Marathon in February to seal his berth in Kuala Lumpur.

In about three weeks, he will leave for Flagstaff, Arizona to train for the biennial Games.

Although he has not seen the marathon course in Malaysia, Soh is leaving no stone unturned.

"I'll prepare for both a fast race and a slow race," he said. "I don't plan on doing anything to dictate the pace of the race... I'm just going to do whatever it takes to win."

Correction note: This story has been edited for clarity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2017, with the headline 'Soh claims mark, athletics body seeks clarity with IAAF'. Print Edition | Subscribe