While top national marathon runner Soh Rui Yong has apologised to the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) for past behaviour in February, and his initials can abbreviated to ‘SRY’, it isn’t enough to regain the SNOC’s forgiveness and acknowledgement to enter the 2022 South-East Asian (SEA) Games.
In a public statement released by the SNOC, it declared that Singapore will be sending its largest contingent of 382 athletes to the 19th Asian Games that will be held in Hangzhou, China.
Soh Rui Yong Not Selected for 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games
However, just like the 2022 Hanoi SEA Games, Soh’s name is still absent from the list, as the SNOC has “yet to find any satisfactory evidence to demonstrate changed behaviour and conduct by Soh Rui Yong (post-the SEA Games 2022 selection meeting) which would enable him to meet the non-performance related standards required”.
The SNOC spokesperson reiterated the Council’s stance on Soh’s nomination from back in February, though his words were paraphrased.
He said, “In the case of nomination put forward by Singapore Athletics (SA) for Soh Rui Yong’s participation at the Asian Games, the selection committee has decided to reject SA’s nomination.
“Selection of athletes representing Singapore at the major Games is a responsibility of the SNOC as stipulated in the Olympic Charter. Nominations put forward by the National Sports Association (NSA) must comply with the Olympic Charter.”
Soh’s Reaction to the Non-Selection
Shortly after the announcement, Soh took to Facebook to respond to the SNOC’s decision to omit him from the list.
He first brings up the fact that he has attempted to make amends by penning a public apology to the SNOC, and expressed his willingness to “resolve our differences and move forward in the best interest of Singapore sports.”
Despite extending the olive branch, Soh writes that he didn’t receive a response from SNOC.
He knew that the SA had nominated him for the 19th Asian Games, as was in his right since he fully met the qualifications to participate in the games for both the 10,000m and marathon events with his records at regional and local competitions, but he wasn’t told that his nomination was rejected until the news was publicly released everywhere.
In fact, he had learned of his non-selection alongside everyone else, through The Straits Times and Channel News Asia, which must have left a sour taste on his tongue.
Unlike the 2022 Hanoi SEA Games and 2019 Philippines SEA Games, Soh has spoken to President Lien of SA, in hopes that they will file an appeal on his behalf.
Once more, he indicates his willingness to “resolve any outstanding differences or misunderstandings” with the SNOC, and genuinely hopes that they can flip to a new chapter instead of holding onto old grudges.
From Soh’s standpoint, his long-standing feud with the SNOC is genuinely hurting his sports career, especially after he’s been denied entry to three major games in a row.
And that is to say nothing of how an athlete’s career isn’t something that continuously climbs; at some point, any athlete’s performance is bound to fall from its peak, as it is in human biology to inevitably face the degradation that comes with ageing.
Similar to his apology in February, he ends his Facebook post on an eerily familiar note: “I am disappointed to see yet another selection in negative press for Singapore sports, but wish my teammates all the best for the Asian games.”
Because the Sports news section seems more fixated on his lack of participation rather than celebrating the fact that there are so many outstanding talents that have obtained the chance to participate in the prestigious Asian games.
Possible Reasons for Soh’s Non-Selection
Besides the ongoing defamation lawsuit against former SA Executive Director Syed Abul Malik Aljunied, Soh has recently lost his appeal for the defamation lawsuit that marathon runner Ashley Liew has filed against him in 2019, for the allegations that he didn’t deserve his sportsmanship titles.
In losing the defamation lawsuit and subsequent appeal, Soh was ordered by the district court to pay Liew $180,000 in aggravated damages to his reputation, plus $125,000 for the district court proceedings and $18,000 for the appeal hearings.
It probably didn’t help matters that Soh later challenged Liew to donate the $180,000 to Singapore Sports or to sponsor a scholarship with that money to prove his sportsmanship.
In retrospect, his challenge is quite petty and shows his reluctance to drop the matter, despite the Court of Appeals asserting that the entire affair has ended, all the court proceedings stated objectively in black and white.
Yes, Soh has shown a heightened level of maturity by offering to drop the defamation lawsuit against the former SA Executive Director, which was summarily rejected by Malik’s defence lawyer, apologising to the SNOC and paying his dues to Ashley Liew when ordered.
He has also gone out of his way to remove any derogatory posts he has made about his SNOC.
But his challenge to Liew does feel like he’s taking three steps forward and one step back.
And now, his latest Facebook post feels like another tentative step forward, albeit filled with resignation.
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Featured Image: Facebook (Soh Rui Yong)
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