Story by Colin Tung/Red Sports
California, USA, Sunday, December 7, 2014 — US-based Soh Rui Yong clocked 2 hours 26 minutes 1 second at the California International Marathon in his debut at the distance to qualify for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore next June. He placed 38th overall and 5th in the 20–24 years age category.
The time was the second-fastest ever run by a Singaporean, after the national record of 2:24:22 set by Murugiah Rameshon in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in December 1995. But it is faster than the last SEA Games gold medal-winning time of 2:28:35 set by Singapore’s Mok Ying Ren, who had, hours earlier, signalled the beginning of a return to form after injury by winning the Local Men’s Open category at the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) in a time of 2:53:52.
Meeting the SEA Games qualifying mark of 2:30:30, pegged to the bronze medal-winning mark of the last Games by the Singapore National Olympic Council, was Rui Yong’s aim heading into the race. The undergraduate at the University of Oregon, said, “It feels satisfying because that’s what I came to California for – making the SEA Games (qualifying mark).
“I stayed patient with no moves up to 32km. I missed both my (energy) gels and Gatorade bottles but, thankfully, there was sufficient water and gel points along the course. Unleashed a 33:29 final 10km to move up 20 positions, which was, psychologically, very encouraging.”
If Ying Ren is also able to meet the qualifying time before the qualifying window closes at the end of March (the 2014 SCMS was Ying Ren’s first marathon since last December’s SEA Games in Myanmar), the prospects of two realistic gold medal hopefuls duking it out on Singapore roads become tantalising.
Since moving to the US to study in August 2013, the 23-year-old has been on a trailblazing run, setting personal best times and the 10,000m national record in June this year. When he returns to Singapore for the SEA Games in June 2015, he is aiming to win gold. Then, he says, the marathon national record beckons.