5 AUG 2019 – One can easily fly into the Brisbane Airport, and take a Con-x-ion shuttle service (costing about AUD$80 for a round trip) to the Mooloolaba Beach area at Sunshine Coast. The 90-mins shuttle ride will also be a scenic and comfortable one in the cool temperatures in August.
Sunshine Coast is a peri-urban area and the third most populated area in the Australian state of Queensland. Located north of the state capital Brisbane, on the Pacific Ocean coastline, its urban area spans approximately 60 km of coastline. The city is also home to the IAAF Bronze Label Sunshine Coast Marathon.
ONEathlete Mok Ying Ren and Evan Chee, together with other prolific Singaporean athletes had gathered in this slightly less-known city. It was not Mok’s first time in the city as he had visited the notable educational institutes at Sunshine Coast in 2018, such as the University of Sunshine Coast (USC) where some Team Singapore athletes go for a training stint.
But this time round, Mok was able to wake up and head out casually for a short jog along the Mooloolaba Beach. Just another typical morning, but Mok was able to see lots of people walking their dogs and playing around the beach with the warm sunshine amidst the cool sea Breeze. Ideal for a beach gateway, away from the buzz of a city life.
With a pretty straight forward race pack collection, and a homely setup with booths to sell race merchadises and tee-shirts, the athletes were all geared for the race (next) day on Sunday, 4 August 2019.
Sunshine Coast Marathon
With a start time of 6am, and a sunrise at 6:30am, it pretty much ensured a good cool weather of about 15-16 degrees at the start, eventually rising up to about 20 degrees towards the end.
Although the event focuses on the half-marathon event, there were about a total of 588 full marathon runners, with good pacing support with pacers from 3hours to 4hours timing (with a 15mins interval each). The Australians were vying for the Australian Championship.
For Mok Ying Ren, as training was disrupted by a 2 weeks flu episode close to the race, on top of the very tight schedule in medical residency, he decided to start conservatively and aimed to complete the marathon in one piece rather than blow up and have to walk the remaining way. “I decided to start with the 3hour 15mins pacer and it was a small group with only 5 runners.” The pacer was clearly a seasoned and well liked runner in the local community, as he was seen cheered on by both fellow runners and spectators. In the same group, Mok also met (for the first time) another Singaporean, Yep Min, incidentally when the pacer was getting to know his small group.
Mok describes the 3 loops course, as one with a couple of undulating hills, but overall, pretty flat. “We started on the 3 loop course with our pace right on target. The first loop was a 21.1km loop together with the half marathon runners, thus guaranteeing good company and ambience while the second 2 loops were 2 loops of about 10.5km to complete the 42.195km course.”
Describing his mood during the race, Mok said that, “I went through the first loop feeling fortunately comfortable because just the day before, I felt really smashed during my morning jog and thus was rather worried.” The good thing about running overseas is that the cool weather and nice sunshine that really gets the spectators out of their houses along the way to cheer the runners on throughout the race.
After the second loop, Mok was actually expecting to hit the wall sooner or later. “Just like what we all do in a marathon, we keep our energy expenditure to the minimum and focused on just keeping pace with the pacer.” But going through 30km and his body holding up well, it gave him more confidence to complete the marathon.
As he entered the last 10km loop, he experienced the fatigue setting in. His thigh muscles were tightening and cramping up. “I just wanted to hold on to the pace group as long as I could.” At this point, the group had dwindled down to 3, Mok Ying Ren, Yep Min, and another Australian. But the fatigue was rather overwhelming for Mok, in the final 2km of the race, and he dropped back from the group. “I was thankful to have finished the marathon and also enjoyed the experience thoroughly,” Mok recalls in his usual positive vibe.
For Evan Chee, who had a personal best of 2:38:58 from the London Marathon in April 2019, he was vying for this last opportunity to qualify for the SEA Games 2019 as the window closed mid-august.
However, he had to miss or stop at a number of the elite water stations (note: the stations were a first time for the race organizers) and felt that he was not able to give his best performance. He is now ranked 6th overall in Singapore based on his personal best timing, and will be preparing his lead up to the Singapore Marathon instead.
Great Beach Drive
The next day, the team of Singaporean runners headed for the great beach drive 4WD tours. This eight-hour, family friendly tour travels more than 70km of iconic beaches with the vehicles travelling right on the sand, so you can soak in the scenery and wildlife, such as dolphins, manta rays, turtles, soldier crabs, birdlife, birds of prey and whales (whale season is June-October). “It was an interesting experience driving down the beach as if it was just a road,” Mok summarized about his experience.
The tour boasts of a few key stopovers. Namely, Red Canyon, Great Sandy National Park, Lighthouse, Coloured Sands, Honeymoon Bay and Rainforest:
Red Canyon – Red and yellow sands form a unique canyon in the sand dunes where you will enjoy magnificent views over Teewah Beach.
Great Sandy National Park – A scenic and relaxing picnic ground where you might be visited by camera friendly Lace Monitors (Goannas).
Lighthouse – Double Island Point Lighthouse offers breathtaking 360-degree views across the Pacific Ocean and scenic surrounds of the Great Sandy National Park. It is here once can often spot pods of dolphins, turtles, sharks, manta rays and the majestic Humpback Whales (season is June-October).
Coloured Sands – This world famous attraction has more than 40 different shades of colour. The tour includes a demonstration of the traditional techniques used by the Aboriginal people (with respect to the Gubbi Gubbi people) to create artwork and decorate boomerangs
Honeymoon Bay – This area boasts a saltwater lagoon with some of the most scenic landscapes in Australia. One can swim in the protected waters of the bay, or body surf on the longest right hand breaks in Australia all year round. Or, like Mok, you can catch up on your work and podcasts!
Mok also recalled that the tour guides were thoughtful to personalize the trip, and make things really easy for the “tourists”. They had set up the tents for lunch and everything was catered for including wine and beer for their picnic lunch, against the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and Fraser Island.
03 Aug 2019 – In a Catholic ceremony held at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, National Marathoner and ONEathlete Ashley Dominic Liew married the love of his life, Sandra Faustina Lee. Ashley had dated Sandra for about 2.5 years before sealing his commitment to the dynamic entrepreneur and dancer.
The bride sewed her own bridal gown, which has the base piece of Ashley’s late mum’s wedding gown extended with a 3D floral skirt.
Beyond that, the bride and her company Free Movement Singapore sewed all the bridesmaids’ gowns and groomsmen’s suits. Waala for effort!
In the evening, the couple held a ‘Beauty and the Beast’ themed Chinese banquet for about 400 guests at Mandarin Oriental.
It was an artistic feast, as the entire dinner was centered around the fairy tale story line, and the bride pulled off a very entertaining costume change on the stage.
Leave your well wishes and messages behind, in the comments section, for Mr & Mrs Liew!
07 JUL 2019 – 26,287 Runners, from 56 countries had gathered at Queensland, Australia’s coastal city for the 41st edition of the Gold Coast Marathon 2019! Having held the IAAF Gold Label since 2014, boasting of a generally flat course that has allowed about 60% of the participants to set a personal best (PB) amidst generally favourable weather conditions, the Gold Coast Marathon (#GCM19) is arguably one of the most popular race spots in the region.
Which goes to also mean that if you are in town, enjoying the waves at Surfer’s Paradise or feasting at Cavil Mall, you might just #run into a couple of runners whom you might be familiar with.
RunONE takes a moment with 20 such personalities who have inspired us during the race weekend!
In an enthralling men’s race, 800m and 1500m track specialist Lachlan Barber (00:29:58) put in a withering finish burst to claim his first Southern Cross University 10km Run (Men’s). He edged over Tim Vincent in the last 400m and won by five seconds. “I was very happy with my performance. I’ve never raced anything over 1500m, so yes, I was really stoked to get under 30 minutes in my first ever 10km,” said Barber.
Barber added that the conditions ‘weren’t ideal at the start line.’ He was referring to the very strong winds (and about 4-5km/h of headwind) and icy-cold rain shower that left everyone drenched when the skies open up just 2 minutes before the start of the 10km race at 6.30am.
Leanne Pompeani (00:33:00) won her second Southern Cross University 10km Run (Women’s), becoming only the second woman to win the race more than once in the event’s history. She had also represented Australia at the World Cross Country Championships in March and followed that up with a win in Canberra over 10km in April.
Looking back on the wet and cold conditions at the start, Leanne said, “A little bit unfortunate about the wind. It’s usually pretty good conditions here so I was kind of expecting that, but you just have to deal with whatever you get on race day.”
One of Asia’s most famous and humble ‘citizen runner’, Japanese Yuki Kawauchi, had achieved 2:09:18 (2017) and 2:09:01 (2016), being the only athlete to have his name twice in the Top 10 All Time Performances honors.
Be careful that it’s Zane and not his twin brother Jake when you approach him! The 30-year old New Zealander brothers had moved to Iten, Kenya to train and further their running careers. ONEathlete Ashley was acquainted with Zane in Kenya during the former’s training stint in 2015.
Zane was actually selected to represent New Zealand in the Commonwealth Games Marathon Male event, but had to drop out due to a groin injury. About 15 months later, he is back in the game at #GCM19 !
The marathon debutant placed third in 2:08:19. He was very consistent throughout the race, staying in distance with the lead pack. He gives us a very detailed breakdown, “I was pretty conservative at the start. We knew the wind would be tough and it was but I kept the pacemakers in check by making sure the pace did not exceed 3:03min/km at the beginning.”
It was also an extra special moment for Zane as he had also set a new New Zealand record, bettering the previous mark set by his brother – Jake’s 02:08:26 set at Lake Biwa in 2018. It was no wonder then, that Zane seemed to be in high spirits at the finishing line – perhaps even ready for another run – as he was seen obliging quite a number of media interviews, including RunONE.
What’s even better was the sportsmanship he demonstrated, describing his race rivalry with great class and giving Shitara credit where due. “I think Yuta, the Japanese (runner), a world class athlete who played the game and played it smart. He expected to win and came through just when we were beginning to die. We had nothing left to go with him.”
Lagat, a Kenyan-American, is a five-time Olympian, having competed in the 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 games. He is also a thirteen-time medalist in World Championships and Olympics including five gold medals.
The Dual world champion over 1500m and 5000m on the track improved his marathon pb to 2:12:10 and finished seventh. The cool dude was seen focusing on recovery and getting a cold compression (as above), and enjoying a little muffin on one hand (while probably catching up on race updates on the other.)!
Do also check out his Instagram to spot his ‘deeply invested and impressive’ drink bottles for the #GCM19!
The first runner-up in 2018, Sinead Diver (01:09:46), beat 2-time champion, Sara Hall (01:1159) in the ASICS Women’s half-marathon race. This was also her first win, and fifth fastest performance in the race’s history. The 42-year-old from South Yarra, Melbourne was too strong for her rivals over the closing 5km. The Australians also had a clean podium sweep by claiming all top three positions in this race!
What was also envious to watch, was the level of sportsmanship that the champ exhibited. She said, “To race against Ellie and Sara and Lisa, it was such a tough race and anyone of us could’ve taken it out. It (just happened to be) my day today, so I was just lucky I think.” She has also qualified to represent Australia in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Marathon event.
The Glen Iris, Melbourne native, Jack Rayner won his second ASICS Gold Coast Half-marathon race (Men’s). The 23-year-old with a personal best of 01:01:01 set in Oct 2018 at Cardiff, crossed the line in 1:02:30, bettering his winning time from last year (1:03:12).
The defending champion came away with the win after a good tussle with Japanese runners Yuki Sato (01:02:36, six seconds outside his personal best set in May 2019) and Yuma Hattori (01:02:39), making his winning break 1km before the finish. Japanese runners filled places second through to eighth in the men’s race.
Rayner was asked about his competitors, and he replied in the vein of good old sportsmanship. “I didn’t quite know what to expect going into it. There was a really strong field of Japanese this year. I had a race there (Japan) at the start of this year so I knew how they ran.”
Rayner will be meeting the Japanese again very soon, as he has also qualified to represent Australia in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Marathon event.
Yuta Shitara. He is THE second fastest Japanese marathon runner in Japanese history. But now, with the win at the the IAAF Gold Label race in 2:07:50, Yuta has also laid claim to being the fastest runner in Gold Coast Marathon history! The previous record was set by Kenyan Kenneth Mungara (2:08:42) who won the race in 2018.
It was the eighth win by Japanese men in the event’s 41-year history. Yuta added “My training was really good. I think that the race really showed the quality of my training. It really brought out my performance today,” spoken by someone who clearly believes in the process!
This feat was despite a very visibly bloodied white vest, from what looks like a terrible case of chest fissures/abrasions. But without a single look of pain on his face and fully focused on the race ahead of him! “I didn’t have any race plan. I just wanted to go in and run the race that happened,” he says.
The 27-year-old champion who mostly carries a neutral expression, had an exciting duel with Kenyan, Barnabus Kiptum and New Zealander, Zane Robertson over the final 12km before making his final move in the last 2km. Shitara took home $20,000 in victory prize money and an additional $10,000 time bonus for his record-breaking effort.
With the likeliness of a K-pop star, a friendly and wide smile greets you from across the room, even though you are at least four meters apart. It turns out to be Shin Kimura, a rising marathon star from Honda Running Club in Tokyo, Japan.
He had spent a training stint in Boulder, Colorado to prepare for this marathon. Nike athletes, Shin Kimura and Bernard Lagat, took turns to pace each other and the former finished just 2 secs behind the latter at 02:12:12. Keep your eyes peeled for this star’s growth!
While Kenyan Rodah Jepkorir held off a strong finish from Milly Clark to win the Women’s Gold Coast Marathon Title, it was the latter who was received by the home crowd with a great loud roar! The Tasmanian sweetheart lost the lead at the 30km mark, but kept her rhythm and finished in 2:28:08 to claim the runner-up spot.
Despite being about two minutes and five seconds behind the Kenyan at the 30km mark, she finished just 12 secs behind the winner. She was clearly giving it all to catch up and edge in to try win the race!
The crowd probably helped too, she said as she reflected. “I had a lot of fun. There wasn’t a moment that I wasn’t loving it. I am just really stoked that I had the crowd and everyone around me cheering. You put in all the hard work in training and this is your prize. Instead of running alone and slugging it out on the roads, you can use the crowd. It gives you that extra burst.”
Clark had set off to do all that she wanted. She enjoyed the race. She recorded a personal best, lower than the Tokyo Olympics qualifier (2:29:30). She finished on the podium. The veteran at Gold Coast Marathon weekend, had won the Half-marathon in 2014, and second for 10km in 2013.
20th overall and South East Asia’s fastest in the Half-marathon Category, Agus Prayogo (01:06:27) broke Indonesia’s National Record to rewrite his own half marathon national record of 1:07:05, which he set at the Singapore Marathon in 2009.
The father and military personnel may seem like a young teenage man. But probably has collected more accolades than his age count. Enuf said, wait up for the SEA Games 2019 to see him shine!
Meanwhile, in the full marathon, Malaysian, Muhaizar Mohamad, finished in 35th place after recording 02:26:42. However, it was 15 secs slower than his personal best, 02:26:27 set at the 45th Berlin Marathon.
Muhaizar had became the first Malaysian to win a SEA Games medal in the marathon, after bagging a bronze in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur edition. His team mate Leo, finished fourth in the same race. The athlete in his early 30s, is now focusing on the SEA Games 2019 in Manila.
29th overall and South East Asia’s second fastest in the Half-marathon Category – beating Singapore’s Half-marathon National Record Holder, Soh Rui Yong – was a 29 year old, young lad named Prabudass Krishnan, finishing at 01:07:29.
The feat saw the Royal Malaysian Navy member erase the 15-year-old Malaysian National Record. He has been training under Coach JP, who had also helped Malaysian National Marathoner Leo set a new Marathon National Record, earlier this year.
Despite such a remarkable achievement, Prabu greets you a with a very unassuming and humble smile in the elite athletes room. Prabu is gunning to win the 5,000m Gold Medal at the SEA Games 2019. He had previously won the Silver Medal in 2017.
Burton He had won the Singapore Marathon 2018’s Half-marathon category in 01:20:11. But no fanfare, nothing pompous. The 29 year old, IT student in SIM University has become a regular at the podiums.
The relatively low profile athlete, was in Gold Coast with his Track Star Athletics team mates, ran his race, and left. He would have ‘escaped your eyes’ if you had blinked. He ran overall 53rd and emerged as the fastest Singaporean in the 10km Category.
Another Track Star Athletics athlete making his mark as the fastest Singaporean at the Gold Coast Marathon was Melvin Wong.
Melvin paced the race with his team mate Iskandar Mohamed and finished overall 69th in 02:37:28. The father of two, manages work, fatherhood and runs his life in great style! His team mate, Iskandar (who was also the runner-up at Singapore Marathon 2019) finished 92nd overall, at 02:42:36. Great camaraderie and working together as ONE to achieve goals are always worth mentioning!
We spotted him and congratulated on his overall 72nd position and emerging as the second fastest Singaporean in the Half-marathon category! Shohib Marican (01:13:14) was pleasantly surprised of course.
The ActiveSG athlete who is coached by Steven Quek, was initially filled with doubts and anxiety about his race. With a renewed mindset, he willed to go hard, focused on the pack ahead and finished with a personal best timing, no less. Go hard or go home, indeed!
Its always encouraging for those in the running circuit to see young athletes push the barriers, and achieve greater excellence!
Speaking of young, the Master’s runner, Ansgar Cheng is more than just young at heart. He emerged 2nd overall in the marathon category, for Master’s Male with a personal best timing of 02:54:16.
The father of two teenage daughters, and dentist in his early 50s, is also awaiting ratification by Singapore Athletics for a new national record of his age group.
Among one of the core members of the Kampong Runners, Ansgar and his wife Moonlake Lee are an affable couple who makes the effort to connect with individuals from the various running groups. That in a sense, kinda depicts the essence of sports and affirms the spirit of the running community!
The newly minted ONEathlete, Giebert Foo ran his first overseas marathon. He emerged 104th overall with a personal best of 02:44:15, 45 secs below his personal best that he had set after winning 3rd at Singapore Marathon 2018.
The civil servant had just completed his 9-month long stay-in training course recently. With the help of his partner, Esther (who was on wheels), Giebert paced his long runs and chased his training mileage over the weekends. On weekdays, he would also try to squeeze in some track tempo and intervals in the evening. Besides sticking to the discipline and controlling his diet, the 27 year old also read motivational quotes from Facebook page “Sweat Elite” to prepare for the race.
But during the race itself, Giebert remembered the prayers and encouragement of loved ones, absorbed the energy of the renowned Gold Coast crowd, and “High-fived” the kids along the way keep up the energy to the finish line. Crossing the line below his target, he said, “It is like a dream come true and has made me realise that i can go further in this marathon journey. I’m thankful for the support of the ONEathlete team which had made this PB a wonderful ONE!”
19. ashley liew
Running his 6th Gold Coast Marathon, and 33rd marathon since 2004, was ONEathlete Ashley Liew.
The 32 year old – with a personal best of 02:32:12 (2015) – believed in the process and prepared like it was his first. Along the way, Ashley had to balance six-day work week at Family Health Chiropractic Clinic while training twice daily. His peak weekly mileage of 160km, not to mention solo 30+km long runs and treadmill speed workouts, amidst intensive wedding preparation, proves that Ashley was determined to make it work.
Spotted with bloodied socks from a burst blister, Ashley said “I’m grateful to still have the body responding well towards the end which was a positive difference from my last 3 marathons.” Finishing overall 175th in 02:51:42, Ashley was pleased to achieve his season best.
20. bonza, the mascot
He ain’t a frog tho he spots a green sleek body! Bonza is a bearded dragon, the mascot for the Gold Coast Marathon. He charmingly convinces that he loves to run, just like all his other bearded dragon friends. As a young lad, Bonza had run at Burleigh Head National Park,
Typically during a morning training run at Miami Beach, he tells us, “I was inspired by thousands from all over the world running up and down my beautiful coastline and thought ‘you little rippers!”.
Instead of hibernating in cooler months like July, Bonza decided that he wanted to be part of the good times, and for this one-of-a-kind race. He was determined to become the first bearded dragon to run at the Gold Coast Marathon, and took a break from chilling with his surfing buddies at Surfers’ Paradise to start training. “I’ve been clocking up plenty of kilo meters on the beautiful beachfront in perfect conditions along the marathon route.”
The 41 year old, is stoked that the race date for 2020 is scheduled to be on 4-5 July, and has already set his goals for the 42nd Gold Coast Marathon race! In good old gold coast fashion, he waves and high-fives to say, “See ya nex july mate!”
18 JUN 2019 – In October 2018, Soh Rui Yong alleged that Ashley Liew did not slow down during the 2015 SEA Games marathon race.
RECAPITULATE SNOC has independently investigated and collated four statutory declarations, which Soh had not made any efforts to view, despite the option to do so. Soh has continued with his allegations , and challenged Ashley to raise the issue before the courts. – We responded on 21 Oct 2018 to media queries. In spite of this, Soh continued to maintain his allegations insinuating that Ashley had lied. – Following SNOC’s ‘retract and withdraw’ letter to Soh, and Soh’s non-compliance, we responded on 02 Apr 2019 to media queries. We mentioned that we were examining all legal options available to ONEathlete, Ashley Liew in view of these developments. – On 09 Apr 2019 to media queries, ONEathlete pointed out that Soh had ignored facts, material evidence and witnesses, but chose to make a fundamental and ‘safe’ shift in position.
SOH CONTINUES HIS ALLEGATIONS
Soh was given various opportunities to retract his repeated allegations and apologise. Even with a legal notice served by various parties, he still had several opportunities from October 2018 to June 2019. He has chosen not to retract his allegations, and in fact, had escalated his allegations on Ashley.
ASHLEY’S STATEMENT POST-COMMENCEMENT OF LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
There is nothing ideal about an athlete suing another. Ashley’s predisposition is to avoid conflict and controversy, but where it comes to allegations against his honour and integrity, he has no choice but to make a firm stand:
On 8 April 2019 I said to the press that “I cannot remain silent anymore”.
Since then, I had attempted to negotiate an amicable settlement with Soh with the assistance of my lawyer, Mr Mark Teng of That.Legal LLC. I am advised that I may not disclose the details of our without prejudice negotiations. However, I wish to say that it is regretful that Soh has adamantly maintained his position and refused to apologise and retract his defamatory statements.
Soh’s unwillingness to retract his statements is obvious from the series of social media posts that Soh had caused to be published about me and this incident. Some examples of what Soh posted on social media after my first cease and desist letter are as follows: – On 9 April 2019, Soh declared on his social media channels that he will “now battle [me] for the truth of the 2015 SEA Games Marathon”; – On 12 April 2019, Soh posted on his social media channels after receiving That.Legal LLC’s letter that he was “amount to reply with a 1-page legal letter to say no” even before his lawyers had a chance to send their formal response; – On 10 May 2019, after receiving my lawyer’s letter Soh posted again on his social media channels that he would be responding to “say no” again before his lawyers had a chance to send their formal response; – On 26 May 2019, Soh made posts on his social media channels calling me an idiot who took the chance to make up a hero story in his post titled “42 Reasons why I HATE Running Marathons #21 to #30” [See page 20 of the SOC]: “When #23 happens you might have idiots who take the chance to make up a hero story about slowing down to wait for others as an excuse for that’s why they didn’t win, then send you lawyer’s letters when you call their bullshit and embarrass them publicly”
I wake up every morning striving to be the best that I can be. I hold the values of honesty and integrity in high regard. Soh’s actions on social media have caused Singaporeans to question my integrity and that crosses the line. Soh’s false statements and aggravating comments have not only hurt my feelings but also disparaged my reputation.
In light of the foregoing, I feel that I have no choice but to ask the Court to vindicate my reputation.
– Ashley Liew, National Marathoner (ONEathlete)
ONEathlete supports Ashley Liew for the truth he deserves and legal options that were offered to him. The Statement of Claim (SOC) and a summary for the SOC will be made available to the members of the press, upon request.
ONEathlete also understands that SNOC has reserved all legal rights against Soh, unlike what the latter had claimed on his social media platforms.
In April’s RunSG Magazine, ONEathlete Banjamin Quek got on the cover of the online edition. While it was pretty a warm day on the day of the shoot, Banja was really cool about it.
Maybe it’s because he was decked out in the latest UnderArmour qualifier kit which comprised of a running tee with unique hex-shaped pattern that helps to regulate temperatures while exercising. Gone are the days when gyms are too cold for your warm-spirited treadmill runs and the outdoors too hot for your burning pace.
Besides being one of UA’s latest models to be introduced onto the market, the Hovr Infinite shoes also allows users to track distance covered and calories burnt via the UnderArmour mapmyrun app.
Looking back at the opportunities and engagements he’s had with UA thus far, Banja is grateful to have met many new runners and reach out though his personal stories and challenges in running.
Banja’s running journey is not unique (but it’s definitely his favourite!). In his interactions with runners of all levels, he has noticed a commonality across them that speak to a shared desire and commitment to better themselves.
That sense of belonging to a larger community of purpose amidst challenging struggles has motivated Banja to become a better runner, and he hopes his personal stories of overcoming challenges have similarly helped others in their running journey as well.
When asked about what is his motivation in running, Banja said
“I do not see myself as extraordinary or talented. Instead, I am just an ordinary runner but I am always eager to test and push beyond my limits. I hope in doing so, I am able to inspire younger athletes to keep striving for their dreams. As a runner and as a member of ONEAthlete, I feel that we are also role models while seeking to be the best we can be doing what we love most – to be both a faster runner, and a better runner.”
For more of what Banja has to say about his running experience and journey, check out the April edition of RunSG magazine below. All rights reserved by RunSG magazine.
BANJAMIN Quek is a ONEathlete and Under Armour Ambassador. The mid-distance runner majored in business, and is passionate about the environment. He is currently away in Iten, Kenya for training.
For inspiring stories related to running and sports, as well as discounts to local races, subscribe to ‘RunONE’ by adding +6588347638 to your Whatsapp contacts. Then send us the words, “Run With Me.”
We said that we are examining all legal options available to ONEathlete, Ashley Liew in view of these developments.
IGNORING THE FACTS
Soh had accused ONEathlete of ‘using personal attacks rather than sticking to facts’ on a Today Sports social media post on 02 April 2019. Despite the availability of sworn statements from witnesses in the form of the Statutory Declarations that were available for Soh’s review upon request, he has decided to ignore them and maintain his allegations against Ashley.
In 2015, Soh had won the 2015 SEA Games Marathon Gold. Ashley hung on to finish 8th.
In Oct 2018, Soh called himself a champion of the ‘truth’ by calling Ashley a liar. On 26 Oct 2018, Soh reiterated that Ashley was “conjuring, exaggerating, and circulating a fictional tale of sportsmanship … ”, Ashley chose to de-escalate.
In Apr 2019, Soh ignored witnesses’ sworn-in statements that contradicted his ‘truth’, and called Ashley a liar, again.
In Apr 2019, Soh refused to retract his allegations. He brands himself as the ‘rebel’ who won’t be intimidated and will see this as an opportunity to stick it out and make his point.
All this while, Ashley was faced with questions and doubted by many for doing the right thing during the race.
MATERIAL EVIDENCE & WITNESSES
In response to suggestions that we provide GPS watch data from the race, unfortunately, Ashley was using a Timex analog (non-GPS watch) during the 2015 SEA Games Marathon, and up till Jan 2018.
ONEathlete understands that as of Oct 2018, no video evidence of the 2015 SEA Games Marathon race was available. The event was also not broadcasted. The existence of the statutory declarations containing the accounts of eyewitnesses as to what had transpired during the race is therefore of material significance, since these accounts not only form the best available evidence, but there would be no reason to doubt the credibility and accuracy of these independent, third party accounts given that it is an offence to make a false statement under the Oath and Declarations Act (Cap. 211).
Excerpt from 02 Apr 2019: Unlike those whom Soh claims to be his witnesses (such as Philippines athlete, Rafael Roliquit Jr, who had received coaching advice from Soh, as well as, two other individuals who were Soh’s coaches), we understand that these four individuals are independent witnesses who were prepared to and did, in fact, make sworn statements of what they saw during the race.That is the material difference – anyone can say anything you want on social media and get away with untruths and lies, but not so when you make statutory declarations.
We disagree with Soh’s suggestion that the witnesses’ statutory declaration lacks credibility. The 4 witnesses’ identities have not been publicly revealed, but they are far from nameless individuals. Soh does not even appear to be interested in who they are of what they have said since he has so far ignored SNOC’s offer to view the statutory declarations.
SHIFT IN POSITION
Soh had shifted his stance between Oct 2018 and April 2019. In Oct 2018, Soh definitively alleged that ‘Ashley did not slow down’. But in Apr 2019, he downplayed his allegations and claimed he ‘did not see Ashley slowing down’. The shift, while subtle, is significant and non-accidental. We believe that as a learned individual, Soh is aware of the difference implied in these two statements.
EXERCISING LEGAL OPTIONS
“From a personal standpoint, I have not responded publicly to something like this because it is not my nature to fan any controversy. To me, staying silent on the matter was an exercise in de-escalation, not an admission of guilt. However, with the insinuations continuing, I cannot remain silent anymore. I believe it is time to speak up and clear the air.” – Ashley Liew, National Marathoner (ONEathlete)
Through his lawyer, Mark Teng of That.Legal LLC, Ashley Liew has sent a cease and desist letter requesting, amongst other things, that Soh retracts his statements and make a public apology.
It has been a challenging period and the decision, a tough one, for Ashley. However, no one should take his kindness for weakness. ONEathlete supports Ashley’s decision to seek the justice he deserves.
We hope that Soh will co-operate with SNOC’s and Ashley’s lawyers, to resolve this matter as amicably as possible and put this unnecessary matter to rest.
02 Apr 2019 – In October 2018, Soh Rui Yong alleged that Ashley Liew did not slow down during the 2015 SEA Games marathon race. We responded on 21 Oct 2018 to media queries. In spite of this, Soh continued to maintain his allegations insinuating that Ashley had lied.
Soh’s allegations had unfairly cast doubt over ONEathlete, Ashley Liew’s repute as an individual, working professional and national athlete, as well as, the merit and integrity of nominating Ashley for and eventual award of the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy in 2016.
Back then, we decided not to respond further to Soh’s incessant aspersions in kind because we do not stand for, nor identify with, such regrettable behaviour from a fellow athlete.
We are grateful to the SNOC for working through the due processes to follow up with and provide greater clarity on this matter. We are also deeply appreciative of the four honourable individuals who have stepped forward with sworn declarations to stand for what they deeply believe in and know is right.
Unlike those whom Soh claims to be his witnesses (such as Philippines athlete, Rafael Roliquit Jr, who had received coaching advice from Soh, as well as, two other individuals who were Soh’s coaches), we understand that these four individuals are independent witnesses who were prepared to and did in fact make sworn statements of what they saw during the race.
That is the material difference – anyone can say anything you want on social media and get away with untruths and lies, but not so when you make statutory declarations.
Based on media reports, Soh has decided not to retract and withdraw his false allegations against Ashley, and has instead sought to aggravate matters by repeating his allegations in his social media postings.
If the truth is really what Soh seeks, we believe the best way to achieve that would be for Soh to co-operate with the SNOC and its lawyers, and to seek clarity with the SNOC in an amicable manner. It is clear that even when confronted with 4 statutory declarations from witnesses whose accounts contradicts Soh’s allegations, Soh has chosen to turn a blind eye to these sworn-in and factual accounts by insisting that his allegations represent “nothing but the truth”.
Such an approach by Soh only serves as an aggravating factor to his initial conduct of falsely accusing another athlete of lying, and in so doing, has brought the sport into disrepute. Soh’s refusal to retract his false allegations in the face of the 4 statutory declarations is an extension of his willful act of blatant disregard, poor sportsmanship and improper conduct which goes against Singapore Athletics’ Athlete’s Code of Conduct.
ONEathlete continues to stand by our earlier response on 21 Oct 2018, and will defer to SNOC’s processes that are ongoing at the moment. We will also examine all legal options available to Ashley in light of current developments.
17 March 2019 – Despite earlier scares over a dense haze that had descended upon Seoul and cast race prospects in shrouds, ONEathlete Evan Chee and Ashley Liew, and many other Singaporean runners assembled with great hopes for their season-opening race.
First held in 1931, Seoul Marathon is the second oldest in the world after Boston Marathon. The IAAF gold label race is famous for its flat and fast course, with a men’s course record of 2:05:13 set by 4-time winner at this event, Wilson Loyanae of Kenya. Typically held in mid March, the cooling starting conditions of about 4 degrees and 8am start time makes it one of the preferred races for runners looking to lower their personal bests.
At this year’s Dong-A Ilbo Seoul International Marathon, Kenya Men and Women dominated as Thomas Kiplagat RONO won the men’s race in 2:05:56 under hazy conditions. While temperatures were near freezing at the start (- 1 degrees Celsius), the cloudless skies and light winds made for otherwise near-perfect conditions to race in.
Evan Chee, who finished 4th at the 2018 Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, crossed the line in 2:41:01 – a new personal best and M35 category Marathon Record (pending Singapore Athletics’ ratification) – while Ashley succumbed to leg fatigue to finish in 3:08:57. The latter eventually managed to join in with the rest at the finish to celebrate his fellow ONEathlete’s achievement.
“I’m very happy. It was a fast course and I was fortunate to have good company along the way. Though the haze was a bit annoying, I am pleased with my performance this early in the season and hope to build on this over the next few months” Evan said, adding that he hoped to qualify for the 2019 SEA Games marathon which would be held in Philippines in November. The 38-year old Men’s veteran marathoner was recently nominated to the Singapore National Team (TeamSG) along with his marathoner sister, Yvonne Elizabeth Chee.
The seasoned marathoner usually competes in 3 – 4 marathons a year. However, with a relatively short 13 weeks between SCSM and Seoul Marathon, Evan incorporated longer tempo trainings and slightly less mileage. This regular review of training approach based on race results (and experience) has been part of Evan’s repertoire ever since he started running competitively. While it is nearly impossible to get everything perfect at your first attempt, he believes that every race can be seen as an experiment of one that we can learn from and improve. The Adidas Ambassador is currently training under Coach Steven Quek.
Also spotted in Seoul: A Team of Singapore Shufflers displaying their racing prowess with a number of them finishing close to the 2 hour 45min mark. Jason Tan who narrowly missed his sub-3 hour timing at SCSM2018 just couple months ago, crossed the line in 2:45:05. His team mate, and young talent Daniel Leow, followed closely behind with a 2:45:43 finish. Other runners prolific in the Singapore running circuit, Andy Neo and Hiroto Ogawa finished in 2:49:01 and 2:50:30 respectively. RunONE’s in-house editor, Lester Tan, or more commonly known by his handle @runningtan, finished with a new personal best of 2:57:16 to join the sub-3 club.
But the icing on the cake for Singapore was the new Marathon National Marathon Record as national marathoner Soh Rui Yong finished in 2:23:42. “It took a few years of work and I finally found the race and opportunity to do it, so I’m definitely happy with that,” Soh told The Straits Times.
The previous record was set by Murugaiah Rameshon at the 1995 SEA Games which was held at Chiangmai, Thailand. (Soh had previously claimed, on his website, to have broken the 1995 record, with his Chicago Marathon 2016 timing of 2:24:55.)
As a IAAF gold label race, Seoul Marathon had delivered on expectations. Although the pre-race registration process was slightly challenging for international runners due to language barriers, the race was well organised, with adequately spaced drink stations serving Pocari and water, as well as full road blockage to ensure the IAAF Gold Label standards were upheld.
More than 37,000 took part in the 2019edition of the race which winds through the streets of Seoul before ending in the Seoul Olympic stadium that played host to the games during the 1988 Summer Olympics.
ONE would also like to express its gratitude to The Singapore Embassy in Seoul, Korea and Ambassador Yip for hosting the ONEathlete team earlier this week.
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What Are Athletes Doing? (WAAD?) Especially when they are not on the track or the courts? Who are they … really? What makes them, who they are?
Ashley Liew, the Pierre de Coubertin Trophy Winner, could easily boast of his fat-to-fit inspiring story. But the ONEathlete and Asics Ambassador, exudes humility, and focuses on his profession as a Doctor of Chiropractic, and passion as a National Marathoner. But is that all?
In the first part of this athlete(s) feature – the ONEathlete Team followed him a little closer in the month of February – we presents 5 things you need to know about Ashley!
#1 Romantic Run-hard
He celebrated his 2nd year ‘first-meet-up’ anniversary on 12 February, blushes talking about his valentine’s day date like its the first date, and has his sleeves-rolled for his marriage preparations.
You might have also spotted the equally supportive, ONE’s resident Cheerleading-coach, and soon-to-be Mrs Liew at races.
#2 Shares his why
The Odyssey, was organised by The Mentoring Circle (SMU) and held on 15 Feb 2019, the flagship mentoring and networking event was graced by Guest-of-Honour SMU Chairman Mr Ho Kwon Ping. It was also attended by over 400 alumni, students and guests at the SMU Hall.
Among the 8 alumni members invited to share over a cushion-breakout-session, were Ho Shyn Yee (Director, Product & Technology, Expedia Group), Leonard Lim (Executive Director, Wealth Management, UBS), Vincent Ha (Co-founder, Gushcloud International) and ONEathlete’s Ashley Liew (Doctor of Chiropractic, Family Health Chiropractic Clinic).
Even during that sacred time to share his journey and insight to his clinical profession; he intentionally reminds his audience to discover and pursue their purpose (whys) and interest. He just wanted to sow that tiny little difference in their life.
#3 Sentimental and Meticulous (in a good way)
He has dedicated races to his late mum, written moving tribute pieces to his parents, his coaches, and his mentor, Dr Kelvin Ng (Family Health Chiropractic Clinic); which gently reminds us to be reflective too.
Oh yes! Have you seen his social media postings? He remembers to credit every photo, acknowledges every support he is a benefactor of, and every person that made that little difference to him. There is usually a list, and we doubt he intends to shorten it. He is thankful that way.
His meticulousness was evident in how he coordinated his schedules, or even the talks that he had to give, detailed to even the slides and equipment he would need to conduct the session.
#4 Gives back
Teamed up with the Kampong Runners and Specialist Dental Group to give back through running a relay at 2019 Singapore Cancer Society-TalkMed Relay For Life. It was overnight and many of us wouldn’t mind a snuggle under our blankets at that time.
It was also meaningful for Ashley to give back towards the efforts to battle against cancer, as he had to deal with the impact of the illness upon his family, 9 years ago.
#5 walks his talk
A man’s character lies not only in his successes, but more so, in his setbacks. Ashley seemed to have a silent word that he holds close to his heart and keeps the daily-grind machines on. One that would also require discipline, resilience and the WHY to keep it going.
Then you realize, he wasn’t smoking you but merely sharing, what kept him going.
We are glad that he didn’t keep this secret ingredient to himself, but takes any opportunity to share and inspire, without any expectations or returns indeed. This genuineness and sincerity was also aptly captured by the SMU team in the below #TalentsofSMU video:
Ashley Liew, will be racing at Seoul Marathon this weekend, together with his ONEathlete Team mates.
Join us in wishing him a good race and a great experience!
[For inspiring stories related to running and sports, as well as discounts to local races, subscribe to ‘RunONE’ by adding +6588347638 to your Whatsapp contacts. Then send us the words, “Run With Me.”]
CHERMENT TAY – What better way to recover from the day of vigorous workout with Under Armour’s latest Recovery Sleepwear line that features the ultimate post-game, post-train advanced sleep system which was designed to help athletes restore muscle faster while the body recovers during rest.
Here is an excerpt of the RunSociety article where they interviewed, UA Ambassador and ONEathlete, Banjamin Quek.
1. What category for SCSM 2018 did you participate in?
Banjamin Quek: I participated in the 21km category. The race course was pretty tough due to the humid weather and slopes on the highway. However, I am glad to be able to clinch local 3rd in that race.
2. How did you celebrate after finishing the race?
3. Did you immediately go back to training after the conclusion of SCSM 2018?
Banjamin Quek: Nope, I was given a few days off after the competition. As the body’s immune system is usually weak after physical exertion, it is best to allow your muscles and body to recover from the strain to avoid falling sick or injuries. Easy runs and regular stretches are recommended to clear the remaining lactic acid in the body.
4. What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced during/after a race?
Banjamin Quek: During the race:
Hydration: As I lose lots of fluids during a run, I usually feel dehydrated in the middle of the race. I think SCSM has positioned their water points pretty well, but they could have done it better by placing more of them along the highway as I was feeling slightly dizzy from the lack of water. The humid weather did not help, either.
The dilemma of sticking to the race plan or listening to your body: I was planning to run at 3:45 minutes/km pace for SCSM 2018. However, I found it challenging to stick to the pace due to varying weather conditions and race terrains. I feel that I could have done better by listening to my body that day as I was struggling to complete the last few kilometres of the run.
To drink coffee or not? : As the race was very early in the morning and I did not manage to catch much sleep, I decided to take some coffee for a well-needed boost. However, coffee causes dehydration and it affected my race to some extent. Hence, it is important that one plans the timing to take the beverage before the race.
Rest: I usually keep my race days free so that I will be able to rest for the entire day after the race. My legs are really sore, so I prefer staying at home and catching up with my favorite shows. Rest is vital for recovery to avoid injuries or the risk of falling ill.
5. What is your post-marathon recovery routine?
Banjamin Quek: I usually take a hot shower, have a good meal and sleep in for a few hours at home. If my schedule allows, I will go for a sports massage in the evening after a race. I will also be on my couch collating race photos from friends and race photographers.
6. How do you feel when wearing Under Armour’s latest Recovery Sleepwear line, and how has it aided you in the recovery process?
Banjamin Quek: The material of the sleepwear is really soft, and it was very comfortable to sleep in. I wear it to sleep before the race and after the race. As compared to my normal sleepwear or tights, I do feel more recharged when I wear the Recovery sleepwear line. It has definitely helped to improve my quality of sleep, and I can distinctly tell the difference. Overall, I felt less tired, as it speeds up the recovery time.
For FULL article on the Under Armour recovery sleepwear line, please CLICK here. Thanks @runsociety.
For inspiring stories related to running and sports, as well as discounts to local races, subscribe to ‘RunONE’ by adding +6588347638 to your Whatsapp contacts. Then send us the words, “Run With Me.”