Team Singapore

Marathoner Soh's peeve is with the SA secretariat, not chief Ho

At last night's Multi-Million Dollar Awards Programme (MAP) awards presentation for SEA Games athletes, marathoner Soh Rui Yong ran up to Singapore Athletics (SA) president Ho Mun Cheong to ask for a selfie.

It was a surprise, given his recent outbursts at SA, but the SEA Games marathon gold medallist said: "My relationship with him is good, he hasn't done anything to disadvantage me as an athlete.

"He's been very, very supportive, he always sends me messages before the SEA Games to wish me luck.

"As a president, I know some people have criticised him for his leadership style or things like that.

"But, personally, as an athlete, I have nothing bad to say about Mr Ho."

The root of his complaints against SA lies with the secretariat staff, he explained.

That was why he baulked at giving 20 per cent of his MAP money, or $2,000, to the national sports association, as mandated by the rules of the award programme.

He and other track and field athletes have had problems with the SA secretariat, and thus felt that they were not deserving of the money.

The 26-year-old said: "For good NSAs like swimming, bowling and netball, when the athletes perform well, they get the 20 per cent.

"But, when poorly performing NSAs like athletics get gold medals, they also get 20 per cent.

"Then where's the incentive for good NSAs to continue being good, and where's the incentive for lousy NSAs to buck up?"

Asked for a solution to this problem, he half-joked: "When I become president, but I am just an athlete.

"I am sure the SA administration will have a bigger picture and better insights to this issue."

Soh will use the bulk of his MAP monies for his training expenses, but pledged 25 per cent of the $8,000 to a charity initiative to support underprivileged student-athletes.

He hopes SA will use his $2,000 contribuion to help more young and underprivileged athletes, who are performing well at the national level, to realise their full potential.

"Not everyone is fortunate enough to pursue this sport without support, so this money better go to them," he said.

Soh Rui YongSEA Gamesathletics