Monday, 25 September 2023

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Soh Rui Yong once again excluded by SNOC from representing Singapore in sports

In a baffling decision by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), local long-distance runner Soh Rui Yong will not be representing Singapore in the upcoming Asian Games to be held in Hangzhou, China, from 23 September 23 to 8 October.

Soh, a two-time SEA Games marathon champion, returned to international competition at the Cambodia SEA Games, securing a silver medal in the 10,000m race.

Despite meeting the Asian Games qualifying mark in the same distance, his name was absent from the SNOC’s latest list of successful appeals.

A spokesman for the SNOC confirmed to the Straits Times that Soh’s nomination by Singapore Athletics (SA) was considered and ultimately rejected.

The SNOC has claimed that Soh failed to honor commitments made to the council, including those following his participation at the Cambodia 2023 SEA Games.

The spokesman added, “Mr Soh continued to make disparaging and derisive remarks about others in the public domain… This behaviour does not commensurate with his apology given, undermines the sincerity of his commitment to avoid posting controversial content on social media, and renders his assurance to conduct himself in a more constructive, mature and professional manner hollow.”

Details of these allegations are yet to be disclosed. However, it is known that the council highlighted various comments made by Soh on social media and press from March to May.

Some of these comments were in relation to former teammate Ashley Liew, who had a public dispute with Soh, leading to a defamation suit in court, which Soh lost.

Despite the setback, Soh remains committed to his training.

Speaking to local media outlets, Soh expressed confidence in his ability to break the 31-minute barrier for the 10,000m at the Asian Games if eventually selected.

SA president Lien Choong Luen shared his disappointment but understands SNOC’s decision. He added, “We have reached out to SNOC while considering how to move forward constructively.”

This latest chapter in Soh’s turbulent relationship with the SNOC follows his earlier exclusions from the 2019 and 2021 SEA Games after a series of clashes that started in 2017. Soh was also absent from the initial list of Asian Games athletes issued in April 2022.

Despite the controversies, Soh’s sportsmanship was evident at the Cambodia SEA Games.

He offered his drink to Indonesia’s Rikki Marthin Luther Simbolon, who accidentally missed his cup at the water point, an act that was widely praised.

Former Non-Constituency Member of Parliament, Yee Jenn Jong, urged the SNOC to focus on athletic achievements rather than social media conduct.

“Just let sports people do their work and stop stalking them on social media. Let him who has no sin cast the first stone. So tired of such petty bans, over social media comments which most people would have missed out anyway if not for some on the throne casting judgements. I have no clue what the offending comments even are. We don’t need them to be saints, just athletes.” said Mr Yee on his Facebook page.

The SNOC’s decision comes amid questions over their silence on a board member, Ng Ser Miang, who was found guilty of ethics violations by the World Sailing Ethics Committee.

Ng, who was also a former vice president of the SNOC, also holds many other appointments, such as the vice president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

A position that World Sailing had accused Ng of “misusing” “in order to intervene in the election and politics of an autonomous International Federation (IF)”.

As of now, SNOC has not commented on the verdict on Ng, and he remains a committee member.

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