Defending Southeast Asian Games marathon champion Soh Rui Yong has challenged the version of events which surrounded his team-mate Ashley Liew’s account which led to the latter receiving plaudits for being sportsmanlike during the 2015 SEA Games marathon event in Singapore.
On 21 October, Soh alleged that Liew’s version of events surrounding the 2015 SEA Games marathon is “simply not true”.
In response, Liew’s management company ONEathlete insisted that “there is no material basis in Soh’s allegations that warrants any further comments”.
It did not provide details or evidence to back its statement.
Also in response, the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) also appeared to back Liew and said: “We are proud of Ashley Liew and gratified that his act of sportsmanship, which was verified, has earned him recognition on the world stage by the International Fair Play Committee.”
The SNOC also did not state how the information was verified.
As of today, there hasn’t been any video evidence produced to back the claim.
As a recap, this is what happened during the marathon race in 2015.
Liew found himself with a 50m lead after the 12 other runners missed a U-turn, and went on a wrong route.
Liew then stated that he slowed down to give his rivals time to catch up. He finished eighth while Soh won the race.
Liew’s actions earned him the International Fair Play Committee’s (CIFP) Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy the following year.
All and good until the CIFP decides to make a Facebook post of the event again on 13 October, which triggered Soh’s response.
“While making a good story, it is simply not true, and I think it’s time to stop living in imagination,” he said.
He also added that Liew “certainly did not stop or slow down to wait for us whatsoever” during that event.
He added: “As for missing a medal because of this act – Ashley gained maximum 20-30 seconds when the leaders ran an extra 100m due to the wrong turn. He finished eighth in 2:44:02, while bronze on the day was 2:37:10 (6min and 52sec behind).
“Saying that this act cost him a medal is disrespectful to the efforts of the bronze medallist of the day, Hoang Nguyen Thanh of Vietnam. I didn’t say anything about this three years ago because I figured a teammate of mine just had a bad race and needed something to feel better about his performance.
“But this fictional version of events that transpired that day has been repeated and published time and time again over the past three years. While making a good story, it is simply not true, and I think it’s time to stop living in imagination.”
Another commenter, in the same Facebook post, shared that he was there on that day and noted that the incident occurred in the first 5 km of the race and commented that it was “not so consequential in a marathon race”.
Instead of defending Liew, perhaps the SNOC and ONEathlete should provide corroborating evidence to back Liew’s claims to quell the doubts raised by Soh, who was the eventual champion.