SINGAPORE- Pastry chef Tam Chua Puh admitted yesterday that he took a short cut in last Sunday's marathon, but said he never meant to be the first Singaporean to cross the finishing line.
When the unknown beat SEA Games-bound marathoner Mok Ying Ren to the top spot, it caused a two-hour delay as officials scrambled to check.
Mr Tam, 43, who ran barely 6km of the 42.195km route, told The Straits Times yesterday that he did not mean to cause any trouble. All he wanted was the finisher's T-shirt and medal.
In fact, he also admitted, he had done the same thing in two previous marathons, but was disqualified both years.
"I am sorry if I offended anyone. I never thought I would create so much inconvenience for the organisers," he said.
His explanation came three days after the controversy over his finishing time of 2hr 46min 57sec, well ahead of all the best Singaporean racers.
Emcees at the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore initially declared him the winner of the Singapore men's category, before he was disqualified for missing all but one of the race checkpoints.
Racer Mok was then crowned the winner with a time of 2hr 54min 17sec.
Yesterday, Mr Tam said he had lasted only about 6km of the race and gave up because his left knee ached. "I stopped at the Esplanade because my knee was too sore. I got hit by a car when I was 12, and my knee hasn't been okay since," he said.