Special Award for Sportsmanship – Mr Ashley Liew (刘威延)

Mr Tan Chuan-Jin (left in red) and Mr Tang Weng Fei (right), President of Singapore Athletics, greeting Ashley (middle, in white) at the finishing line of the men’s marathon at the 28th SEA Games.

17 Jun 2016

In the early morning on 7 June 2015, the lead pack of runners missed a U-turn in the dark 5.5 kilometres into the men’s marathon race at the 28th SEA Games and 28 year-old Ashley Liew found himself in the lead.

Instead of taking advantage of the error and gaining on his new lead, Ashley gave up his fair and just lead of 50 metres by slowing down and waiting for the lead pack of runners to catch up. With his act of sportsmanship, Ashley effectively reduced his own chances of obtaining a medal position, which was within grasp. The recorded personal best timings of the runners showed that Ashley had a reasonable shot at attaining a podium finish, especially since the race was on home ground.

Ashley’s belief that “it is not always about the medals, but what you do in between” demonstrates the admirable spirit that athletes should always aspire towards. Following the incident, Ashley was lauded by Singaporeans from all walks of life for displaying stellar sportsmanship.

He is currently pursuing his post-graduate studies at the Sherman College of Chiropractic in South Carolina, USA. One would find it hard to believe that Ashley was spurred to pick up running in his teens to lose weight to battle obesity. He attributes his switch from an amateur runner to a competitive one to his coach, Mr Rameshon Murugiah, who will receive the award on his behalf on 23 June.

“It is extremely humbling to be receiving this honour. Unfortunately, neither myself or my father will be around to receive this in person due to my Sherman College of Chiropractic graduation ceremony on 18 June in South Carolina. However, my coach Rameshon Murugiah and chiropractor Dr Kelvin Ng will be there on my behalf. These two individuals were the only two whom I shared the marathon incident with in passing. Now, a nation and more have heard the story. Until today, I maintain that what transpired was not extraordinary. I would do it again in a heartbeat in a similar situation. My takeaway since has been twofold. Firstly, a little goes a long way; others may see the value in a seemingly insignificant behaviour. Secondly, achievements are secondary to character; hardwired values prompt the necessary actions in response to any situation. With that, it is my hope amidst our fast paced society, we continue cherishing values above achievements,” said Ashley.

Read more about the Special Awards here.

Read coach Zhu Xiaoping’s story of fortitude here.