Team Singapore's Neo Jie Shi said chants of ‘Singapore, Singapore’ from the Rio crowd had helped her complete the gruelling Olympic marathon on Sunday in the mid-day heat.
TeamSG marathoner Neo Jie Shi crossing the finish line at the Women's Marathon event. Photo: Sport Singapore
The 31-year-old’s time of 3 hours 15 minutes and 18 seconds was not her personal best (3.09:57) but the fact that the race started at 9.30am and was not completed until after noon was clearly a mitigating factor.
Indeed 24 runners were not able to complete the race while Neo, who was the first Singaporean to complete the Olympic marathon, since Yvonne Danson in 1996, battled her way to the finish line.
“I'm slightly disappointed for not running a personal best, but I did my best to race under the conditions and is happy to complete the marathon,” she said, reflecting on her effort on Monday."
TeamSG marathoner Neo Jie Shi showing her appreciation for the supporters who cheered her on. Photo: Sport Singapore
“I have a great and awesome racing experience throughout. It was tough running out there alone in the heat, but I received much cheers from the supporters from all over the world."
“They kept chanting "Singapore! Singapore!" when I ran past them. It was very heart-warming and that kept me going,” she said.
Having turned from a recreational runner into a competitive long-distance specialist, Jie Shi, coached by veteran trainer Steven Quek, saw her times improve significantly in the build-up to the Games, recording personal bests in 10km and 21km distances.
Her next challenge will be on home soil, offering Singaporean supporters a chance to see her in action and give her the kind of backing that she enjoyed in Brazil.
“As per previous years, I will be participating in the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore in December,” she said.
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