Dare to be different, everything starts with a dream. This is something that comes to mind when speaking to national 10,000m record holder, two-time national cross-country champion, World Half Marathon Championship competitor & national athlete Soh Rui Yong. On June 15 this year, Rui Yong stamped his name in the record books when he broke the 41-year-old 10,000m national record at the Portland Track Festival.
Currently studying at the University of Oregon on a Singapore Sports Council scholarship. Overachiever Rui Yong credits his achievement to the fact that this was something he had been aiming for since he joined athletics in secondary school. Publicizing it to his friends, family members, teammates and even the general public, he thinks that the expectation of having to do well eventually helped pushed him towards achieving his target. Unlike most athletes, Rui Yong does not believe in keeping any information “confidential” and is open about almost everything from his training schedule to his thoughts on the sport and his current lifestyle for the better of the sport. In his free time, he blogs on his website about issues on the sport as well as his trainings and life in Oregon.
Photo Credits: Liu Yu Hong
His first attempt at taking down the record came in the ASEAN University Games in 2012 when he ran a rare sub-33 minutes (32:26), the first Singaporean in 21 years to do so. Less than two years later, he managed to better the national record of 31 minutes and 19 seconds by 4 seconds to bring his personal best to 31 minutes and 15 seconds at the Portland Track Festival in June this year.
Photo Credits: Gordon Cully
Apart from a slight knee issue 3 weeks before the race where he broke the 41-year-old national record, Rui Yong is lucky to have never had a major injury before. He says that it all boils down to being in tune with your body and learning how to listen to it. This comes from years of experience and from his coach, Ian Dobson. Whenever he feels that something is wrong, he will cut back on his training immediately and take a break for as long as necessary, which could be a day or two or sometimes even a week.
Living in an apartment with his sister, who is a US citizen, he says that the initial adjustment to life in Eugene, Oregon was difficult. Without an Indonesian maid to cook and clean up after them, Rui Yong and his sister have had to take up most of the chores. Rui Yong feels that being able to cook for himself means that he is able to control his diet and the amount of oil that goes into the food, which means healthier meals.
Photo Credits: Soh Rui Yong
As a full-time student and athlete, Rui Yong wakes up at 6 am daily to train, go for classes and then train some more. Not only does he have to juggle homework and housework, but he has grades to maintain as a scholar. On top of that, he is also doing an internship at the Sports Conflict Institute which allows him to put his degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Sports Business to good use. Despite such a grueling schedule, Rui Yong says that such a lifestyle is a choice and he has no qualms about having to miss out on regular pubbing or drinking sessions that most regular young adult Americans do.
With the SEA Games coming to Singapore next year, Rui Yong is looking forward to it although he has yet to confirm which event he will be participating in. Despite the half-marathon being his best event, he will either have to compete in the 10,000m or the marathon for the upcoming Games. For Rui Yong, the SEA Games is one of the few sporting competitions that people at home are familiar with and where the most national pride is at stake. Will he continue to best his 10,000m record next year, or will he challenge himself with the marathon, an event which he has yet to attempt?
Photo Credits: Eugenia Lim
Keep your eyes peeled as he runs his first marathon in December where Rui Yong will be challenging the national record of 2 hours 24 minutes and 22 seconds. We sure know who we are rooting for.
Written by Tay Yu Shan
Tay Yu Shan is a sports enthusiast and an avid runner.