“SNOC President Tan Chuan-Jin blocked me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn” — Soh Rui Yong on SEA Games line-up omission

Singapore — Champion marathoner Soh Rui Yong has been excluded once again from the list of delegates to this year’s SEA Games, which will be held in Hanoi in May.

A spokesman for the  SNOC was quoted in The Straits Times as saying that Soh “fell short of the standards of attitude and behaviour the SNOC expects of and holds its athletes to”, the same reason it gave for excluding the runner from the roster of athletes sent to Manila for the SEA Games in 2019.

Soh, 30, set a new national record last December, running the marathon in two hours, 22 minutes and 59 seconds, ten minutes faster than the qualifying time set by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) for the event.

He issued a statement on Facebook on Feb 16 (Wednesday), after Singapore’s SEA Games lineup was announced and his name was omitted.

The runner wrote he read that the SNOC had said he had made no efforts to make amends since 2019, which he denied.

“This is categorically false and borders on defamation,” the runner wrote. “I can confirm that President of SNOC, Tan Chuan Jin, has blocked me on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, for reasons only known to himself. While he is well within his rights to block whoever he wants to block, it’s hard to resolve disputes when the leader of the SNOC himself is not open to communication.”

He added that last month, he had met with Mr Edwin Tong, the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth. 

The runner added that Mr Tong had been “very kind in offering to help mediate my situation with SNOC,” and took the opportunity to “say a big thank you to Minister Tong for his efforts.”

Soh also wrote that for him, “any disputes in the past is long water under the bridge for me” and that he’s “happy to make amends and resolve matters, but it takes two hands to clap.”

The runner wrote that his exclusion from this year’s SEA Games delegates means “Singapore loses out the most as it costs us a good chance at a gold medal.”

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On my part, apologies for any inconveniences that have arisen from my past actions and apologies that Singapore will once again miss out on a marathon gold medal as things stand. Good luck to the rest of the team competing in Vietnam.” 

Soh had won the gold at the 2017 South East Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur. He had won in the same event in 2015, becoming the first Singaporean male marathoner to win back-to-back SEA Games titles.

He also holds national records for three other long-distance events: the 5,000m, 10,000m, and the half marathon.

Roh is currently a law student in London.

But the runner has had his share of controversies, including disputes with fellow runner Ashley Liew and track-and-field governing body Singapore Athletics (SA).

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In 2017, after winning at the SEA Games, the runner protested having to donate twenty per cent of the $10,000 cash reward he received from SNOC for winning to SA, claiming he had won “without any coaching help from SA.

In another Facebook post on Thursday morning, Soh thanked his supporters and wrote, “Setbacks are never fun, but I’ll take it in my stride and continue to work on becoming better – as a true champion should.” /TISG


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