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Marathoner Soh Rui Yong blasts SNOC president Tan Chuan-Jin after SEA Games omission

SINGAPORE — Marathoner Soh Rui Yong has lashed out at Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, president of the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), and his team for engaging in what he called “primary school playground politics”. This was after he was omitted from the Singapore contingent bound for the South-east Asian (SEA) Games later this year.

Mr Soh Rui Yong pictured here after winning the SEA Games men's marathon final in Singapore in 2015.

Mr Soh Rui Yong pictured here after winning the SEA Games men's marathon final in Singapore in 2015.

SINGAPORE — Marathoner Soh Rui Yong has lashed out at Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, president of the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), and his team for engaging in what he called “primary school playground politics”. This was after he was omitted from the Singapore contingent bound for the South-east Asian (SEA) Games later this year.

The SNOC on Thursday (Aug 1) released a statement with a list of 585 athletes from 49 sports who will represent Singapore at the Games, which takes place in the Philippines from Nov 30 to Dec 11.

It will be Singapore’s biggest contingent for an “away” Games but Mr Soh, a two-time SEA Games marathon champion, was not on the list.

The 27-year-old wrote in a Facebook post: “I'm disappointed that SNOC president Tan Chuan-Jin and his team have chosen to behave in such a petty manner.

“This is akin to primary school playground politics where kids go, 'I don't friend you already!' just because you say something they don't like.”

SNOC said in the statement that its selection committee has deliberated carefully all nominations put forward by the National Sports Associations for their athletes for the upcoming SEA Games.

“In the case of the nomination put forward by Singapore Athletics (SA) for Soh Rui Yong’s participation at the 2019 SEA Games, the selection committee has decided to reject SA’s nomination,” SNOC said.

“Since the 2017 SEA Games, there have been numerous instances where Soh has displayed conduct that falls short of the standards of attitude and behaviour that the SNOC expects of and holds its athletes to, considering that they are held up and seen as representatives of the country and as examples to our sporting youth.

“As such, the SNOC has decided to reject SA’s nomination for his national representation at the 2019 SEA Games.”

Commenting on his omission, Mr Soh said: “I consider winning medals for my country at SEA Games to be a national service. Since I no longer am bound to this duty, I look forward to exploring my potential at other marathons I've always wanted to race at, such as the Boston Marathon.

“I wish all my athletics team-mates all the best of luck in Manila and will be rooting for them always.”

Mr Soh and SNOC have been embroiled in a dispute over an “act of sportsmanship” purportedly shown by another marathoner, Mr Ashley Liew, at the SEA Games men’s marathon final in 2015 in Singapore.

Mr Liew said that he had slowed down to allow other runners in the event to catch up after they missed a U-turn and took the wrong path. The incident led to Mr Liew winning the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy — a global prize for good sportsmanship — after being nominated by the SNOC.

But Mr Soh, who won the race, disputed Mr Liew’s account of events, insisting that his team-mate did not slow down as he had claimed.

In May, Mr Liew’s lawyers sent a letter to Mr Soh, demanding that he pay S$120,000 in damages to Mr Liew for defamation, remove all “false” public statements and issue a public apology.

Earlier in April, SNOC’s lawyers had served Mr Soh a legal letter demanding that he publicly retract his allegations and admit that his claims about Mr Liew were wrong.

Related topics

Soh Rui Yong SNOC SEA Games Ashley Liew marathon

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