Marathon: Soh suffers in London

There were no surprises at yesterday's London Marathon as powerhouse Kenya dominated the elite categories.

Eliud Kipchoge retained the men's crown, while Jemima Sumgong carried off the women's title.

It wasn't a happy occasion for Singapore's Soh Rui Yong, though.

The national marathoner finished in 2hr 37min 33sec, well short of the Olympic cut time of 2:19:00 for August's Rio Games.

The 24-year-old, who was more than 11 minutes off his personal best of 2:26:01, set in California in 2014, is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to meet the qualifying mark by the closing date of July 11.

Labelling yesterday's race a challenging experience, Soh revealed on Facebook that he struggled with cramps and white vision in the final stretch.


"Did exactly what I wanted to do for 32.2km, but having barely trained since suffering an injury a month ago, the lack of fitness really showed in the last 10km," he said.

"2:37 wasn't what I was hoping for but I'm happy with my race today."

Kipchoge retained the men's title in 2:03:04, missing the world best by seven seconds.

His time was the second fastest in history, bettered only by compatriot Dennis Kimetto's world best of 2:02:57 set at the Berlin Marathon two years ago.

Kipchoge broke clear of another Kenyan, Stanley Biwott, with about three kilometres to go and sprinted home well ahead of Biwott, with track legend Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia in third.

Countrywoman Sumgong was equally remarkable, recovering from a fall to win the women's race in 2:22:58, finishing five seconds ahead of last year's winner, Tigist Tufa of Ethiopia.

Third place went to another Kenyan, Florene Kiplagan, who clocked 2:23:29.

Singapore's Soh will know how tremendous the Kenyan runners are.

In February, he embarked on a seven-week training stint in Iten, Kenya, where he ran 160km a week to boost his chances of reaching the Olympics.


However, his progress was scuppered when he aggravated a plantar fasciitis injury in his left foot, after racing in the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff last month.

Despite facing calls to skip the London stop, the 2015 South-east Asia Games marathon champion went ahead with the race, finishing 211th overall.

"Raced London Marathon today worrying that every step could be my last," said Soh, who opted to wear heavier shoes during the race to protect his foot.

"When I do my next marathon, I'll be better trained, hopefully without injuries, and have a stronger finish."

This article was first published on April 25, 2016.
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