Two Months After SEA Games, Soh Rui Yong is Ready to Embark on Road to Tokyo 2020
Soh Rui Yong aims to be the first Singapore marathoner to qualify for 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Two months ago, Soh Rui Yong clinched his second consecutive gold medal at South-East Asian (SEA) Games by finishing ahead of his competitors with a time of 2:29:27 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
If you think Soh would slow down or take a break from running after the gruelling battle at 2017 SEA Games, you’re making a mistake. The 26-year-old Soh doesn’t rest on his laurels. In fact, Soh has already begun his preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics while juggling a full-time job.
When asked whether he has bad days when he doesn’t feel like running, Soh said, “Bad days? Every morning.” To motivate himself, he focuses on the benefits of running and the reasons that keep pushing him forward:
I always feel better and more productive at the office after a morning run. Also, every day I miss is one step I fall behind my friend and rival, Agus Prayogo.
Due to his busy schedule, Soh has to be wise on how he spends his limited free time. He shared, “I don't have much free time, but when I do, I like heading down to Clarke Quay to watch live bands - my favourite bands are Chris & Diana and The Lost Box, and grab a few drinks.”
Despite his lofty goals, Soh doesn’t feel a lot of pressure. He said, “Running is a good way to cope with life stresses. Pressure is a good thing if channelled well.”
Local Running Events
A supporter of the local running scene, Soh has also raced in a number of races in Singapore. The most recent races include the Singapore Airlines Charity Run (10km) and the HomeTeamNS Real Run (10km), where he took the top podium spots with timings of 32:25 mins and 32:40.4 mins respectively.
As the winner of SIA Charity Run, he won an SIA Business Class ticket to any SIA destinations. At the moment, Soh hasn’t decided on his chosen destination. However, he commented, “I'll probably use it for a training camp or a major marathon!”
This Sunday, 29 October 2017, Soh will be competing in the Frankfurt Marathon in Germany – one of the fastest courses in the world. This would be his first marathon since the 2017 SEA Games in August.
At this race, Soh will be a pacer for his friend Sara Hall, an American marathoner and one of the world’s top distance runners whom he met at last year’s IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. Soh hopes to help her achieve a new personal best in Frankfurt.
On Soh’s support, Hall said:
I couldn’t imagine a more positive and encouraging person to have by my side spurring me on in this attempt to run faster over the distance than I ever have before. It meant so much to me that someone of Rui’s caliber would believe in me enough for this moment to be willing to help.
2018 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships
Last month, Soh ‘accidentally’ qualified for the 2018 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, which will be held in Valencia, Spain on 24 March 2018.
He met the qualifying criteria when he accepted a friendly invitation to participate in the Blackmores Half Marathon in Sydney on 16 September. Soh went in the race with no expectations other than to do his best and enjoy the run, having had only 2 weeks to train for it. He finished the race in a time of 68:51 mins. Soh recalled,
Sydney was really hilly and with lots of turns, so at no point was qualification for the World Championships on my mind. Singapore Athletics hadn't announced the selection criteria back then either, so it wasn't clear how the selection would be done, but I'm glad it's all clear now and that I've qualified for my fourth consecutive World Half Marathon Championships.
According to the Singapore Athletics (SA) website, the qualification time for the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships 2018 for Singapore athletes is 70:00 mins for men and 78:00 mins for women. The time must be recorded during a qualifying period of between 1 September 2017 and 31 January 2018, and clocked on a course that is in accordance with IAAF rules and accreditation, and sanctioned by SA.
On Giving Back
Besides running and racing, Soh is also keen to give back to the running community in Singapore. Recently, he pledged to use part of the $10,000 he won under the Multi-Million Dollar Awards Programme (MAP) for his SEA Games victory, to help 22-year-old Nanyang Technological University undergraduate, Reyhan Amierul, a local 400m sprint specialist in need of financial support.
Additionally, Soh also conducts school outreach programmes in conjunction with his hydration sponsor, H-Two-O, as well as regular running clinics for interested parties.
On Love Life
When asked whether he has a girlfriend, Soh kept it short and simple, “That depends on who's asking.”
The road to Tokyo 2020 is long and requires strong focus as well as continuous dedication, but Soh Rui Yong is more than ready.
Featured Photo Credit: Romaine Soh