mok ying ren sea games marathon gold

Mok Ying Ren winning the 2013 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games men’s marathon. (Photo by Peh Siong San for SSC)

Thursday, March 12, 2015 — Singapore’s reigning Southeast Asian (SEA) Games men’s marathon gold medallist, Mok Ying Ren, has ruled himself out of the 2015 edition, which will be held in June on home soil.

Mok has been recovering from a shin injury that has prevented him from training and competing at a high level for the past few months, according to a Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) press release earlier today.

The 26-year-old won the men’s marathon at the last SEA Games in Myanmar in 2013 with a time of 2 hours 28 minutes 36 seconds, ahead of Myanmar’s Thaung Aye and the Philippines’s Eric Panique, who won silver and bronze respectively.

Mok, who had also won gold in the triathlon at the 2007 SEA Games, said, “It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my absence from the 2015 SEA Games after discussion with my coach, Lee Troop.

“While I’m sad not to be able to defend my title on home soil, I am confident that my fellow runners who will don the national flag can put up a good showing. I will take this time out to rehabilitate and come back stronger than before. A big thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of me.

“The past couple of months have been particularly trying for me having suffered multiple injuries, one after another, and even though I have recovered, they have severely affected my training for the upcoming Games. As a result, I have not been able to put in a decent block of training and hence I am not at the level which I had hoped to be at to be able to represent Singapore at the 2015 SEA Games.”

While Mok has given up the chance of winning a third gold medal in as many SEA Games this June, he still has his sights set on qualifying for the Olympics next year.

He said, “However, I am still determined to chase my dream of representing my country at the 2016 Rio Olympics and will be taking one year of no-pay leave to train with renowned marathoner and coach, Lee Troop, in the US in hopes of meeting the ‘B’ qualifying time of 2:18.”

While expressing disappointment at the omission of a gold medal hopeful from the upcoming SEA Games, the President of SAA, Mr Tang Weng Fei, looked forward to Mok’s return to full fitness.

“Mok is a professional athlete who has brought a lot of joy to Singapore whenever he competes. It is unfortunate that he will have to sit out the upcoming SEA Games but we have athletes like (Soh) Rui Yong, Ashley (Liew), and even Derek Li and Lim Thow Wee (who are both running in this weekend’s Seoul Marathon) who are capable of doing Singapore proud in the marathon event,” said Mr Tang. “SAA will continue to support Mok as he continues to recover from his shin injury and I am sure I speak for the entire athletics fraternity that we cannot wait to see him back in action.”

Oregon-based Soh Rui Yong, speaking about the absence of his friend and competitor from the SEA Games, said: “The news comes as a big disappointment for me. Growing up, Mok was my senior in Raffles Institution by three years, and I always looked up to him as a source of inspiration.

“Him setting the 5,000m national record and running 2:26:30 for the marathon showed the way for many of us. It’s only after years of training that I have finally become a match for him and I was looking forward to challenging (the figure of) my inspiration on home soil for the gold medal and perhaps (make) a bid for a 1–2 finish for Singapore.

“That being said, I look forward to teaming up with Ashley (should he qualify). Ash and I are friends as well as competitors, and this friendly rivalry is what drives us on to the SEA Games showdown. Ash is as tough as anyone I know and will give everyone a good fight in June. I’m excited for the both of us.

“With the defending champion out, I know it is time to step up my game and fill the shoes left behind by one of the finest distance runners Singapore has seen. I’ll use this as a positive drive rather than solely a disappointment.”

Fellow marathoner Ashley Liew, who is also in contention for a men’s marathon spot at the 2015 SEA Games, said, “I am sorry to hear about Mok’s situation. I sincerely hope he bounces back soon, as he has done before. I never saw qualification for the SEA Games as a competition in itself but as an opportunity for personal growth. Whatever the final outcome, I will be truly grateful.”

The final SEA Games squads for athletics and other sports are expected to be announced in April.