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Injured, but Soh Rui Yong still chases Olympic dream
SOH RUI YONG will not give up Olympic dream despite foot injury
It has not been an easy 2016 for me.
In many ways, it has been frustrating, but the experience has also given me perspective.
The tough year so far has made me realise that sport, like life, is never smooth sailing.
It helps me treasure the good times and take nothing for granted because, without warning, your fortunes can turn just like that.
I arrived in Eugene in August 2013 in pursuit of a business degree at the University of Oregon while looking to realise my potential as a distance runner.
Finding a fantastic set-up in Team Run Eugene and coach Ian Dobson, I went on to have two years of running heaven.
I lowered my 5,000m personal best from 15min 36sec to 14:58.
In my first 10,000m race in Oregon, I chopped 1:11 off my previous personal best to set a new national record of 31:15.
My half-marathon best went from 72:12 to 67:52.
And, in my first marathon, I ran 2hr 26min 01sec at the California International Marathon in Dec 2014.
Seven months later, I ran my second marathon, winning the SEA Games gold medal on home soil.
Even though I took a long break after last June's SEA Games and, despite being hindered by a hip injury, I managed to take eight seconds off Mok Ying Ren's national record at the Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon in September 2015, with a time of 67:21.
It was the purplest of purple patches and, with 10 weeks to go to the Fukuoka Marathon in December, I was in the best shape of my life and had good reason to be in high spirits.
Five weeks before Fukuoka, however, I woke up and couldn't rest my weight on my left heel.
Out of the blue, I had been struck with the dreaded runner's injury - plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the thick band of tissue connecting your toes to your metatarsals.
There is no cure for plantar and it is a difficult injury to manage.
While plantar can be incredibly painful, as I can testify, I would not classify it as a severe injury.
In many cases, it heals itself given time and, in the meantime, can be managed by rehabilitation exercises and protection in the form of taping.
There are two ways to approach plantar fasciitis.
One is to lie down and rest. The other is to fight on.
So now, I've returned to the soft trails and cool weather of Eugene setting out to finish what I started - qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Over the last seven months, which have included a seven-week training stint in Iten, Kenya, with the best runners in the world, I have built the biggest aerobic engine I have ever possessed.
Unfortunately, you're only as strong as your weakest link, and my sore foot means that I am comparable to a Ferrari with a flat tyre.
The soft, woodchip trails of Eugene (left), unlike anywhere else in the world, give me that chance to train well while managing my injury.
The healing process is what I'm focused on now, and I will make a decision on whether I will run at July's Gold Coast Marathon in due time.
I'm continuing to build my fitness, and, once my foot heals up, I know I will be ready to run my best marathons.
Soh Rui Yong was talking to Sazali Abdul Aziz.
You can also follow Soh's journey to Rio on H-TWO-O's Facebook page, where he regularly gives updates.
Schooling hot favourite
Young Hausl has big dreams
Rising German star in town to whet the appetite of young football dreamers
He spoke with a maturity that belied his tender age and the kids who were in attendance at the F-17 Academy training session at the Home United Youth Football Academy yesterday took in every piece of advice.
Charmaine Hausl turned 20 this year.
A graduate of the FSV Mainz 05 academy, he plies his trade with the Bundesliga club's Under-23 team, FSV Mainz 05 II, who compete in the third tier of German football.
Having already represented Germany at both the Under-16 and 17 levels, the promising centre back can also operate as a holding midfielder.
Like most promising young footballers, he has big dreams.
Speaking to The New Paper before the start of the training session yesterday, he said: "It's been my dream to play in the Champions League and also to represent my country at senior level.
"It will also be nice to play in one of the top leagues in the world.
"But, to do that, I hope I can make it to the Mainz first team and I will be working very hard to make that happen. I will have to do well in training and in every match."
When pressed about his ambition to play in a "top league", he said: "Real Madrid or Chelsea would be nice."
Hence, it was somewhat of a surprise when Hausl tipped Real's rivals, Atletico Madrid, to win the Champions League final.
"I like Real but I hope Atletico can win because they have 'small' players who are not as well known as (Cristiano) Ronaldo and (Karim) Benzema, and it would be nice for a 'smaller' team to win."
While that was a surprise, Hausl was only ever going to pick one country to lift the European Championship trophy.
"Germany, of course," he grinned.
"They just won the World Cup and the team have some new, younger players, so I hope they can win. A final against France would be nice."
Hausl will be in Singapore until Wednesday, hosting a holiday football camp for kids from the F-17 Academy which will kick off on Monday and he hopes to show participants the path to becoming a professional player.
"I got an offer from Mainz to come to Singapore, to come to F-17 to train the kids and to give them a taste of what football in Europe is like," he said.
"What the F-17 is doing is good because players have to start from a young age if they want to become professionals and that is why I thought this was a good opportunity to come down and teach the kids some of the things that I have learnt as a youth player.
"Most importantly, I want them to have fun and I want to have fun teaching them and I want to show them that if you work hard, anything is possible."