Everything About Soh Rui Yong’s Silver Medal & Why He’s Suddenly Became an Internet Darling


For a tiny island, Singapore has many talented athletes, and we’re fortunate that we get to see them shine during sports competitions.

Even more so now that Singapore has been killing it in the recent 32nd SEA Games held in Cambodia.

In his first time competing in the men’s 10,000m category of the SEA Games, long-distance runner Soh Rui Yong won the silver medal for Singapore on 11 May, where he raced in the Morodok Techo National Stadium in Phnom Penh.

This victory means that Soh has won his first SEA Games track medal, and he’s even set a new national record.

He ran the 10,000m in 31min 10.70sec at the Games, improving his previous personal best of 31min 12.05sec, which he had set in 2022 at the England Athletics’ Championships.

He also competed in the 5,000m category on 9 May, where he finished in fourth place.

However, it wasn’t just the silver medal that had the country and even the world gushing over Soh.

In a now viral video, Soh is shown sharing a cup of water with Indonesian runner Rikki Marthin Luther Simbolon, who was a few seconds ahead of him.

As the runners passed by the water station, Simbolon is shown reaching for a cup of water, but his running momentum caused him to fumble and drop the cup.

Soh managed to grab a cup and splashed some on his head, before running to catch up with Simbolon.

He is seen calling Simbolon’s name and offering Simbolon the cup, which Simbolon took and drank.

“You cannot make that up, you cannot fake it either. He’s a gentleman, this Soh Rui Yong,” the commentator said, accompanied by cheers from the crowd.

You can watch the video of his kind deed here:

Soh Rui Yong Returns to the SEA Games

Soh is finally back in the SEA Games after not having competed in the event for over five years due to disagreements with the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC).

This was due to legal disputes he had with fellow runner Ashley Liew, who sued Soh for defamation.


In the 2015 SEA Games, Liew and Soh were competing in an event together, and Liew noticed that his fellow competitors had taken a wrong turn, which put him at a 50m lead.

In order to allow his rivals to catch up, Liew slowed down instead of heading towards the finish line. Soh won the race, while Liew finished eighth.

Liew was lauded for his act of sportsmanship and he was awarded the Special Award for Sportsmanship by SNOC, as well as International Fair Play Committee’s (CIFP) Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy.

However, Soh disagreed with the way the events had been portrayed in the media, claiming in a Facebook comment that “this story is untrue” and explained that there was no way Liew could have given up a medal for the sake of fairness as the bronze medallist was nearly seven minutes ahead of Liew.

Filipino marathoner Rafael Poliquit, who was in the same race, backed up Soh’s accounts, saying that he “didn’t see anybody slow down.”


Liew then sued Soh for defamation, and the court ruled that Soh had to pay S$180K in damages. Soh had to crowdfund in order to afford to pay this sum as he claimed to “[not] have the money on hand”.

His behaviour had him excluded from the 2019 SEA Games.

Soh also found himself in another controversy when he sued Syed Abul Malik, a former Singapore Athlete Association (SAA) Executive Director, for defamation as well.

Following the events of the 2015 SEA Games, Malik apparently posted a picture of himself with two children on Facebook. He told them to take precaution with the marathon event, lest it “ends up messing with your mind and heart.”

In a separate comment on the post, Malik said that the marathon had distorted “[one particular runner so far]’s sense and logic beyond repair.”

Although Malik did not name Soh, we all knew who he was referring to.


Malik also claimed that the events of this saga “seemed to have drained him of empathy, compassion, gratitude and the capability to love others.”

Soh then sued Malik for defamation, but offered to withdraw his lawsuit a while later after Malik had admitted that his alleged defamatory statements were not “in good taste”.

However, Malik refused to drop the suit, and Soh eventually lost the suit as the judge ruled that Malik’s comments were reasonably justified due to the long list of other past controversies that Soh had found himself in.

Soh’s Redemption Arc

Despite his checkered past, many Singaporeans were excited to have one of the best runners of the country back in the SEA Games after a five-year absence.

On 25 March, a SNOC spokesperson said that Soh’s behaviour over the last few years had been “unacceptable and unbecoming of a national athlete, which resulted in his non-selection at the 2019 and 2021 SEA Games.”


Despite this, the spokesperson also mentioned that “the SNOC Appeals Committee for SEA Games 2023 met with Soh and is satisfied with the progress he has made.”

And now, with the recent 10,000m race, it seems like Soh is not only bringing glory to Singapore in the realm of sports, but he’s also having his character redemption arc.