Marathon dropped from next year's SEA Games?
The last two South-east Asia (SEA) Games marathon gold medals have been won by Singaporeans.
Mok Ying Ren produced an improbable triumph in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, in 2013, before Soh Rui Yong pulled off another victory on home soil, last June.
However, if Malaysia has its way, the event will not even be contested at the next edition of the biennial Games, which is slated for next year in Kuala Lumpur.
Yesterday, various Malaysian media portals reported that the marathon, along with several other commonly contested athletics events, failed to make the Olympic Council of Malaysia's (OCM) shortlist of events for the 2017 SEA Games.
The other track and field events that did not make the OCM's recommendation are the 10,000m, 3,000m steeplechase, decathlon and heptathlon.
The OCM's provisional list of 34 sports, and various events in them, will be discussed at a SEA Games Federation Council meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.
News of the exclusion of the popular athletics events has caused a stir, even among Malaysians, who reportedly believe the OCM drew up the shortlist of sports and events to gain an advantage as host country.
Malaysian daily The Malay Mail quoted an unnamed Malaysian sports official as saying that even Minister for Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin was "not happy" with the list of events.
It also reported OCM president Tunku Imran Ja'far explained that Malaysia's national sport associations can appeal for their sports and events to be included, as the final list will be approved only in July.
Singapore National Olympic Council secretary general Chris Chan stressed that the OCM's provisional list is still subject to change.
Chan, who will be one of Singapore's representatives at this week's SEA Games Federation Council meeting, said: "Yes, when I go to the meeting I will find out what's the reason behind all this."
Reigning champion Soh was less than pleased with the news.
The 24-year-old, who is currently two weeks into a seven-week training stint in Iten, Kenya, as part of his bid to qualify for August's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, said the marathon's exclusion would take some gloss off the athletics programme.
"The marathon is an extremely popular event in the community, given its ease of access," he said.
"Just look at the thousands of people signing up for marathons and other road races every year."
Tongue in cheek, Soh added: "(If marathon fails to make the cut) I'll be happy to be the first four-year reigning marathon champion at the SEA Games."