Mok in the driver's seat for SEA Games spot
Marathoner Liew decides not to attempt to clear SEA Games qualifying mark
A surprise decision has opened up the likelihood of Singapore's two South-east Asia (SEA) Games marathon champions to be the Republic's representatives at this year's edition in Kuala Lumpur in August.
Ashley Liew, one of three marathoners vying for the two berths, has decided not to attempt to clear the Games' qualifying mark of 2hrs 37min 10sec.
He tried to clear it at the Tokyo Marathon last Sunday, but fell short with a 2:38.30 effort.
This means that if Mok Ying Ren, the 2013 SEA Games champion, clocks a better time at the Seoul International Marathon on March 19, he will get the second ticket to KL.
Last month, 2015 SEA Games champion Soh Rui Yong had already booked his spot by clearing Singapore Athletics' "performance test" with a 67-minute half-marathon in Japan, having clocked 2:24.55 at the Chicago Marathon last October.
On the sidelines of the book launch of Runnerdotes: A collection of Anecdotes from Inspirational Runners at the Ang Mo Kio Public Library yesterday, Liew confirmed that he would not have another crack at qualifying for the SEA Games before the May 31 deadline.
"I'm done with running marathons until the qualification window closes," said Liew.
"So now, I've just got to wait until the final team is selected."
The 30-year-old, whose personal best is 2:32.12, represented Singapore at the previous two SEA Games, in Myanmar in 2013 and on home soil two years ago.
I’m done with running marathons until the qualification window closes. So now, I’ve just got to wait until the final team is selected.Marathoner Ashley Liew
Mok, who was also present at the book launch yesterday, was surprised by Liew's announcement, but said he was focused on only his own race in South Korea in two weeks.
"The main aim is to qualify for the SEA Games and a good timing is secondary," he said.
"The marathon is a long race.
"Sometimes you gamble too much at the start and end up losing everything at the end.
"So this race is not about gambling too much, about staying safe and, if I feel good in the second half (of the run), I can push for a better time."
The 28-year-old, who clashed with Soh on Facebook last year over their opinions on Singapore Athletics' criteria for wildcard selection for the Olympics, said it would be "interesting" if they were to both run in KL in August.
"It's definitely going to be exciting to have the two previous SEA Games gold medallists," said Mok.
"In 2013, there was no (Singapore marathon winner) and now 2017, two cycles later, we have two... It's quite interesting and quite amazing actually.
"To watch Rui Yong win in 2015 was quite stunning, I really didn't expect him to win and I don't think many people expected him to win.
"Even when I won in 2013, I think nobody was expecting it.
"So hopefully this year, we will manage to prove we were not two flukes at two consecutive SEA Games."
Mok and Liew were at Ang Mo Kio Public Library yesterday to lend their support to the launch of the Runnerdotes book, in which they shared their stories about lessons learnt from running.
Soh, as well as other notable local runners like Neo Jie Shi - who ran at the Rio Olympics last year - and Jeanette Wang, were also interviewed.
The book is written by Adrian Mok, founder of the Osim Sundown Marathon, to mark the race's 10th anniversary this year on March 25.