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SEA Games: Indonesian marathoner praises rival Soh Rui Yong for sportsmanship

SINGAPORE — It was a moment missed by most media outlets. Save for one Indonesian journalist, no one else reported when Singapore runner Soh Rui Yong performed a small act of sportsmanship during the men’s marathon at the SEA Games two Saturdays ago (Aug 19).

Soh Rui Yong and Agus Prayogo after the marathon. Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY

Soh Rui Yong and Agus Prayogo after the marathon. Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY

SINGAPORE — It was a moment missed by most media outlets. Save for one Indonesian journalist, no one else reported when Singapore runner Soh Rui Yong performed a small act of sportsmanship during the men’s marathon at the SEA Games two Saturdays ago (Aug 19).

In the final 8.9km loop of the 42.195km race, Soh and Indonesia’s Agus Prayogo were leading the pack when Prayogo missed his drink at a designated hydration point. Noticing this, Soh offered the remainder of his own isotonic drink to Prayogo.

Although Prayogo declined Soh’s offer, he praised the Singapore runner in an interview with Indonesian sports newswebsite DetikSport. 

“Even if we are enemies on the field, we still maintain sportsmanship,” Prayogo said. “He (Soh) took his drink, I didn’t managed to take mine, and so he asked me if I wanted to take his.”

The Indonesian runner, 31, explained to DetikSport that he didn’t take up Soh’s offer because each athlete had his own drink. Soh later won the race, while Prayogo took silver. 

The “story of the water bottle” gained over 700 ‘likes’ and ‘loves’ on DetikSport’s Facebook page. Soh wrote on Facebook that he had forgotten about the moment until Sunday (Aug 27) when he saw the article online.

The 26-year-old, who became the first Singaporean male marathoner to win back-to-back SEA Games titles, has praised Prayogo several times during this SEA Games. 

Describing the Indonesian as his “good friend and idol”, Soh said on Facebook that he was emotional during an interview with the media after the marathon as he felt he was winning the race “at the expense of crushing a good friend’s dream”. 

“Agus is a hero of mine - I’ve always cheered hard for him in every single competition he races, feeling genuine joy when he wins and heartache when he loses.

“(The SEA Games) was the first time I’ve ever been good enough to race Agus toe-to-toe over any distance.

“That mixed bowl of emotions - elation mixed with guilt, maybe even slight regret - is what made me tear up when asked about Agus.

“I hate benefitting at the expense of friends...Sometimes I hate that there can only be one gold medalist per race,” he said.

Prayogo has also showed his respect for Soh. After the race, he told DetikSport: “This is the result, and we have to recognise that the opponent (Soh) is better”.

This is not the first time that Soh has shown a gesture of sportsmanship during a race. In 2012, it was reported that the marathoner had stopped midway through the Army Half Marathon to check if compatriot Ashley Liew needed help after the latter tripped and fell at the 8km mark. Soh eventually won that race while Liew finished second.

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SEA Games 2017

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