Takagi Ramen’s sponsorship with Soh Rui Yong in Oct 2021. (Photo: Takagi Ramen)

SINGAPORE —  Takagi Ramen, a ramen chain, has officially renewed its S$20,000 per annual, unlimited ramen sponsorship with Singapore’s top distance runner, Soh Rui Yong.

Soh holds the Singapore national records for 5,000m (14min 44.21sec), 10,000m (31:12.05), half marathon (1hr 06min 46sec) and marathon (2:22:59), the only Singapore athlete in history to hold all four records concurrently.

Soh is also currently in the second year of his three-year law degree at University College London.

The new deal comes as part of Takagi Ramen’s continued expansion into the Singapore Food & Beverage industry, with the business announcing a new ramen bar opening at Redhill on 7 January. Currently, the chain has nine outlets around Singapore and ten once the Redhill outlet opens.

Takagi Ramen first signed Soh as an ambassador in October 2021. In Soh’s first year with Takagi Ramen, the Singapore athlete rewrote the national records for the 10,000m and the marathon.

Soh first ran 2:22:59 to rewrite his old record of 2:23:42 at the 2021 Valencia Marathon in December 2021, before running 31:12.05 to finish 10th at the England Athletics 10,000m national championships in June 2022.

Soh has credited Takagi Ramen for these breakthrough performances.

“Takagi Ramen has been a fantastic brand to work with – they have been extremely supportive not in material terms but by providing immense moral support and encouragement as well. There is also nothing better for the soul than a delicious hot bowl of ramen after a hard training session that leaves me exhausted and hungry. I am humbled and honoured to receive their support and will strive to reach even greater heights this year, with the Takagi logo on my chest,” Soh shared.

“As a distance runner, I burn a lot of fat and carbs. It’s important to consume enough post-workout to recover, and a bowl of Takagi Ramen gives me the protein, carbohydrates and fat I need to fully absorb my training load and take my body to a new fitness level.”

Soh Rui Yong enjoying a Takagi Ramen feast after a hard training session at Gombak stadium. (Photo: Soh Rui Yong)

Despite Soh’s record-breaking performances and his knack of winning gold for Singapore when selected (Soh won marathon gold at the 2015 and 2017 SEA Games), the athlete missed out on selection for the 2022 SEA Games due to past disputes with the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC).

SNOC had said to the media that Soh’s conduct and behaviour were “unbecoming” of an athlete who wishes to represent his country at major games and runs contrary to the requirement of the Olympic Charter to “serve as an example to the sporting youth”.

Soh was earlier warned and threatened with expulsion by SNOC during the 2017 SEA Games from the team for repeatedly flouting the council’s rules on promoting personal sponsors on social media. He later got into another dispute for contesting the account of Ashley Liew, where he said he had slowed down at the SEA Games men’s marathon final in 2015 in Singapore to allow other runners who ran off course to catch up.

Soh was embroiled in a defamation suit with Liew due to the dispute and lost the suit with S$180.000 being awarded to Liew. He also lost in a separate defamation suit against Syed Abdul Malik Aljunied, former executive director of Singapore Athletics, over statements Malik made on Facebook after Soh was rejected for the 2019 SEA Games.

In October last year, Soh openly issued his second apology to SNOC and took down his blog post, including social media posts from April 2019 onwards that may be seen as disparaging to SNOC and has written to third-party publishers to request that they do likewise.

He also said that his apology letter was supported by the Singapore Athletics — the national sports association that unsuccessfully nominated him for the SEA Games in 2019 and this year.

Takagi Ramen founder Yang Kaiheng has pleaded for parties to put the past behind them and move forward in the best interests of Singapore.

“The facts are this: Singapore won 3 consecutive SEA Games marathon gold medals in 2013, 2015, and 2017. Since Soh’s non-selection in 2019 and 2022, Singapore men have not won a single gold medal in track and field at the SEA Games. I think it’s safe to say that we have not handled matters in the best interest of Singapore. Having followed the disputes with interests, both parties have their merits and reasons for acting in the way they did,” said Yang.

He added, “Whatever we feel about Soh’s handling of disputes in the past, he has apologised to SNOC and acknowledged he could have done better. For the best interests of our country, I hope SNOC can accept his olive branch and field our best athlete for future games again,”

“Soh is an extremely hard working athlete, a diligent student who will soon graduate with his law degree and a great ambassador for Takagi Ramen. I believe he is a role model for every young Singaporean striving for success in studies, sports, or in their career as well. We are blessed to have him as the face of our brand for another year, and will continue supporting his to achieve excellence in track and field.”

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