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Marathoner Soh Rui Yong denies lawyer’s charge that he was jealous of fellow runner Ashley Liew’s fair-play awards

SINGAPORE — National marathoner Soh Rui Yong was acting out of jealousy when he levelled accusations at teammate Ashley Liew. This was because the latter had won awards for his act of sportsmanship but Mr Soh had not, Dr Liew’s lawyer Mark Teng argued in court on Thursday (Sept 24).

Marathoner Soh Rui Yong denies lawyer’s charge that he was jealous of fellow runner Ashley Liew’s fair-play awards

Mr Soh Rui Yong arriving at the State Courts on Sept 24, 2020.

  • Dr Ashley Liew’s lawyer suggested that Mr Soh Rui Yong was jealous of his fellow athlete
  • Dr Liew had won awards for an act of sportsmanship but Mr Soh had not, he said
  • Mr Soh said he is not “a jealous person” and does not need material validation
  • The national marathoner alleged that had Dr Liew really slowed to a crawl, he would have caught up with him in about 10 seconds

 

SINGAPORE — National marathoner Soh Rui Yong was acting out of jealousy when he levelled accusations at teammate Ashley Liew. This was because the latter had won awards for his act of sportsmanship but Mr Soh had not, Dr Liew’s lawyer Mark Teng argued in court on Thursday (Sept 24). 

Mr Soh rebutted that such claims were “rubbish” and that he “doesn’t let jealousy occupy my thoughts”. 

“If (Ashley) was really a sportsman, he wouldn’t be suing people who question his story,” the 29-year-old said. 

Dr Liew, 34, who is also a doctor of chiropractic at a private clinic, is seeking S$120,000 in damages from Mr Soh for defamation.

A two-time Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medallist, Mr Soh has alleged on several social media posts that Dr Liew did not slow down at a SEA Games marathon event in 2015.

At the time, Dr Liew found himself leading the 12-runner race in the men’s marathon after his rivals missed a U-turn and took the wrong path. He was said to have then run slower in order to wait for them to catch up — an act that later won him an award for sportsmanship.

Mr Teng sought to show in court that Mr Soh wanted to win a sportsmanship award of his own, just as Dr Liew had won in 2016 a Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy — a global prize for good sportsmanship — for what happened during the 2015 marathon. 

Dr Liew was also recognised by the Singapore National Olympics Council in 2016 with a special award for sportsmanship at the Singapore Sports Awards.

Mr Teng noted that Mr Soh had pinned a TODAY report on the 2017 SEA Games at the top of his Facebook page, such that anyone who visited the page could see the post. 

The report talked about how Mr Soh offered a water bottle to fellow competitor Agus Prayogo during the marathon at the Games. Mr Prayogo then praised Mr Soh for this act of sportsmanship. 

“You knew about the Pierre de Coubertin (trophy) in 2016, then in 2017 you gave this guy your water,” Mr Teng said. 

“You pinned the 2017 post (with the news report) because you yearn to be recognised as a sportsman,” Mr Teng added. “When you realised that the publicity from the TODAY online article was not going to get you a sportsmanship award, you called out Ashley’s integrity and said he did not slow down.” 

“That’s rubbish,” Mr Soh replied. “If you’re really a true (sportsman), you don’t need these material things to validate you.” 

Mr Teng pressed on, saying that while Dr Liew’s act of sportsmanship was mentioned in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally speech in 2015, Mr Soh’s defence of his gold medal in 2017 was not mentioned in the 2017 rally speech. 

“You posted (allegations against Ashley) because you were jealous of the wide fame that Ashley had garnered,” he said. 

Soh again denied this, reiterating that he is “not (one) to get jealous”.

“If someone is better than me, I learn from them... I don’t allow jealousy to occupy my thoughts,” he said. “I am not a jealous person and it doesn’t (relate) just to Ashley, but to people I deal with day-to-day.” 

‘ONE BIG LIE’ 

Mr Soh also told the court that he had a “clearer vision” of the sequence of events during the 2015 race because he was running 50m behind Dr Liew. 

“Every single action that he did, I could observe it,” he said. “The fact that it took more than 2.7km to catch up (to Ashley) meant that (he) didn’t slow down for us.” 

He added that Ashley’s account of the incident — that the chasing pack had taken two-and-a-half minutes to close the 50m gap he had on them — had brought up “many inconsistencies" and was "very suspicious”. 

Mr Soh further explained to the court that if Dr Liew had indeed slowed to a crawl, a 50m gap would take “no more than 10 to 11 seconds to cover”. 

“If you really want to show sportsmanship, you stop there… the whole thing will be over in 10 seconds, and then you continue (running),” Mr Soh said.

“We caught (up with) him because he was slower than us, he didn’t slow down for us,” he said. “This is just one big lie, and using lies to cover up other lies.” 

Testifying as a witness in the afternoon, athletics coach Steven Quek agreed with Mr Soh and told the court he saw that Dr Liew did not slow down. 

The 52-year-old, who had coached Mr Soh when he was an athlete in Raffles Institution, said that he was standing about 100m away from the U-turn point during the 2015 race. He thus saw the initial leading pack make the error and overlook the U-turn. He also watched as Dr Liew claimed the lead. 

Mr Quek had said in his affidavit that he “did not see Ashley stop or slow down to wait for the athletes who had missed the U-turn point to catch up to him”. 

Mr Teng put it to Mr Quek that he might have failed to observe Dr Liew slowing down at a separate location. 

Agreeing with this, Mr Quek said: “It’s not fair for me to say he didn’t slow down 3km down because I wasn’t there.” 

Related topics

Soh Rui Yong Ashley Liew marathon defamation court

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